[CT Birds] Breeding Bird Evidence and eBird

Greg Hanisek ghanisek at rep-am.com
Sat Jun 2 00:21:31 EDT 2012

I, along with Steve, look forward to a formal Breeding Bird Atlas here. 
However, it's worth noting in the meantime that eBird is set up with a 
built-in atlas-type set of codes. Any observation made by anyone using eBird 
can be enhanced by applying Possible/Probable/Confirmed breeding evidence 
easily found in a dropdown window. Just click on the Add Details tab that 
appears next to a species when you enter it onto a checklist. Today you 
could start doing your own mini-Atlas of your yard, a favorite site etc. As 
with all eBird entries, the information goes into a secure, searchable 
database (which assures that at sometime in the future your records won't 
meet the birding equivalent of your mom throwing away your baseball cards).

Greg Hanisek

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Stephen Broker" <ls.broker at cox.net>
To: <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
Sent: Friday, June 01, 2012 5:38 PM
Subject: [CT Birds] Alder Flycatcher and Breeding Bird Evidence

> With hope and a major commitment in time, Connecticut soon will gear up to 
> conduct its second Breeding Bird Atlas as a follow-up to its first 
> statewide breeding bird atlas conducted in the mid-1980s.  The timetable 
> and strategy for such a Connecticut breeding bird atlas are under 
> discussion within the state's major ornithological organizations.
> This past year, Massachusetts completed the field work for its Mass 
> Breeding Bird Atlas 2, held from 2007 through 2011.  Massachusetts 
> Commonwealth was divided into 1055 atlas blocks based on USGS topographic 
> maps, and these blocks were surveyed by atlas volunteers for evidence of 
> avian breeding during the five-year period.  The data for Mass BBA2 are 
> available on-line at www.massaudubon.org/bba2/.  At this website, one can 
> view the breeding bird codes used in Massachusetts for the atlas.  The 
> evidence for breeding in Mass BBA2 ranges from Observed [present but no 
> evidence of breeding] to Possible Breeder to Probable Breeder to Confirmed 
> Breeder.  There were seven different ways that a field observer could 
> establish a species as a Probable Breeder.  They included finding a 
> male/female pair, singing seven days or more apart, on permanent 
> territory, agitated behavior or anxiety calls, courtship behavior of 
> copulation, visiting a probable nest site.  (See the website for specific 
> articulation of these breeding codes.)  The key aspect of these evidences 
> of probable breeding was that the observation had to be made during 
> so-called Safe Dates established for each bird species based on knowledge 
> of their life history patterns within the state.
> Confirmed Breeder status in a given atlas block was achieved in any of 13 
> different ways, and this evidence included occupied nest, carrying nest 
> material, nest building, physiological evidence (used by banders); 
> distraction display (select species), unoccupied nest, precocial young, 
> fledged young, carrying food, feeding young, carrying fecal sac, nest with 
> eggs, and nest with young.  (Again, see the website for a full description 
> of these breeding codes.)
> In the case of Alder Flycatcher, the established safe dates were from June 
> 5 through August 1.  Any date that Alder Flycatcher was observed in 
> Massachusetts prior to June 5 was recorded as Observed and did not qualify 
> for a higher ranking.  The exception to this standard was if some category 
> of Confirmed Breeder was recorded prior to the start (or end) of safe 
> dates.  So, in this example, if an Alder Flycatcher was heard singing on 
> June 5 and again on June 12, it achieved the status of Probable Breeder 
> PR(S).  The species would not be 'upgraded' to Confirmed Breeder unless 
> one of the evidences listed above for confirmation of breeding was 
> observed in the field.
> There's lots more that one can learn about breeding bird surveys by going 
> to the website listed above.  Mass Audubon published a "State of the Birds 
> 2011:  Documenting Changes in Massachusetts' Birdlife" report based on the 
> first four years of the atlas, and the report is accompanied by a website, 
> www.massaudubon.org/StateoftheBirds.  Further analysis of the five years 
> of field data continues.
> I spent a major portion of the last three spring/summer seasons doing 
> field work for MassBBA2 on Outer Cape Cod, and I now find my birding here 
> less purposeful now that the atlas field work is completed.  Connecticut, 
> step up to the plate!
> Steve Broker (Cheshire, CT and Wellfleet, MA)
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