NY Breeding Bird Atlas requests help from citizens

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The New York Breeding Bird Atlas is seeking help from citizens across the state for a multi-year project of collecting field data. 

Coordinators of the project recognize the opportunity to involve sportsmen in data collection; their keen observation skills and time spent outdoors makes them ideal candidates for the task.

“This is a five year project covering the whole state and we can use all the help we can get,” New York Breeding Bird Atlas III Project Coordinator, Julie Hart, said.

“The basic instructions are for people to observe birds doing breeding behaviors, such as singing, courting, nest building, and feeding young, and report them to the Atlas using eBird,” Hart added.

eBird is a digital tool for recording bird observations run by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. Data may be entered online via a web browser or in the eBird mobile application. The New York study has a specific portal for data entry in eBird. 

If participants use the internet to enter data, they should go to: https://ebird.org/atlasny/submit.

If using the eBird mobile app, they need to set the portal to the NY Breeding Bird Atlas in the app settings.

A key change from previous atlases will be the use of eBird for data collection, Hart said. eBird offers real-time data entry and outputs, so data collectors will be able to follow along with results throughout the breeding season and across the entire project period.

Coordinators encourage beginners to participate in the New York Breeding Bird Atlas because every single observation counts.

“The more information we can gather, the better our estimates of statewide populations will be at the end of the project,” Hart said. “The data are used to make detailed distribution maps of all 250 breeding species in the state. The ultimate goal of the project is to conserve the birds of New York State, which, since birds are the best studied taxa of wildlife in New York, is used for all sorts of conservation and management projects in the state to the benefit of all wildlife and habitats.”

While any and all sightings are helpful, the coordinators of the New York Breeding Bird Atlas have a special request for information regarding hard-to-detect nesting species such as Barn Owls, Barred Owls, Turkey Vultures, and Black Vultures.

Also tips on raptors that nest in forests such as the Northern Goshawk, Cooper’s, Sharp-shinned, Broad- winged, and Red-shouldered Hawks, and access to land if they are on private property, are especially appreciated.

Some of these birds can be very secretive or nest in remote areas. Nesting birds should be observed at a distance and not disturbed, especially when it is cold. Northern Goshawks are very territorial and will dive-bomb and sometimes attack people near their nest. Turkey hunters sometimes experience this. If you have info on any of these birds, project coordinator Karl Curtis, can be contacted via email at kcurtis596@gmail.com.

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