Bird watchers asked to submit sightings to eBird site, app
By Megan Plete Postol
The New York Breeding Bird Atlas is seeking contributions from birdwatchers in the Adirondacks.
The project is currently in the midst of a multi-year project of collecting field data, specifically sightings of bird breeding activity. Coordinators of the project recognize that the Adirondacks is a unique place in relation to data collection; the remoteness and specific habitat lends to both more difficult and more rare sightings.
Some of the bird species covered in the study tend to stay away from humans, so people that recreate in the rugged wilds of the Adirondacks may have access to sightings that might not happen elsewhere, according to project coordinators.
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Matthew Young, President and Founder of the Finch Research Network (FiRN), is based in Cortland but frequently travels to the Adirondacks to collect data. He has contributed information to the Atlas since its inception. He is interested in what this session’s data will reveal.
“We are documenting from a conservation perspective, how these birds are doing,” he said. “We can compare to previous atlases to see what is happening with the state’s bird populations.”
The current project, which is basically a census of bird breeding activity, is the third of its kind for the state. It is conducted every twenty years, the first being from 1980 – 1985, and the second one from 2000 – 2005. New York will be the first of all 50 states to complete a third atlas.
“This is a five year project covering the whole state and we can use all the help we can get. 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.”— Julie Hart, New York Breeding Bird Atlas III Project Coordinator
Run by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, eBird is a digital tool for recording bird observations. 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.
The biggest shift from previous atlases is 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.
“It will be interesting to see how methods from this atlas line up to previous ones,” Young said. “This time it is more inclusive, everyone can contribute. Contributors don’t have to be experts.”
Prior to this current study, contributors were mostly expert birders, such as Joan Collins, of Adirondack Avian Expeditions & Workshops LLC in Long Lake.
“I was heavily involved in the second Breeding Bird Atlas,” she said. “I atlased remote blocks with no roads or trails. There was lots of bushwhack camping, which I love.”
This time, coordinators encourage all interested birdwatchers, from beginner to specialist, to participate in the New York Breeding Bird Atlas. Every single observation counts, they said.
“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, sSharp-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, Pompey, wants to hear from you. He can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The important thing to emphasize is that observers don’t need to be expert birdwatchers to participate,” Hart said. “Even kids can participate if they have a parent enter the data for them. It’s a great way to get into observing wildlife and participate in community science.”
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