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Calling all New York State Bird Lovers: Your Help is Needed

Citizen science project invaluable to conserving stateís natural resources
3/24/2020

Pileated woodpecker checks peek out of their nest hole.

Everyone from backyard birders to wildlife biologists are invited to submit observations to the third Breeding Bird Atlas, a five-year survey occurring once every two decades. For the next five years, birdwatchers can help scientists assess changes to New York state's population of breeding birds. The data has been used to track changes since the first survey was conducted in the 1980s. Continually updating the data is invaluable to managing bird populations and conserving habitat.

"This announcement and request for participation could not come at a better time," said Dr. Dave Amberg, interim president of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF). "Birding is an excellent activity - safe and stress-relieving - for these challenging times and the impact of the data collected by the citizen scientists will provide pivotal data for those studying climate change. A comparison study between the first two atlases showed that many species have already moved northward. The 2020 atlas will further document the impacts of global change on New York's birds."

Nearly 250 bird species breed in New York state. The atlas is designed to determine when and where birds are breeding statewide. Volunteers record all the breeding species they observe in each atlas "block," which is a roughly 3-mile by 3-mile area. There are 5,710 blocks in the state.

"This is a unique opportunity for anyone to learn about birds while contributing valuable data for conservation," said Julie Hart, project coordinator, New York Natural Heritage Program. "I encourage all bird enthusiasts to participate and tune in to the breeding birds that raise their families here in New York state."

Atlas data are used by the birdwatching community, researchers, land managers, conservation organizations, and regulatory agencies to guide the management and conservation of birds and their habitats.

To participate, visit ebird.org/atlasny and create a free account. When you observe breeding behaviors, enter data online or with the eBird mobile app. Data submitted to date can be found here: https://ebird.org/atlasny/state/US-NY. As of March 23, 2020, 666 atlasers submitted 13,693 checklists confirming breeding for 36 species. As the summer approaches, more and more species will begin nesting.

The atlas project is steered by seven organizations: the New York Natural Heritage Program, ESF, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Audubon New York, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, New York State Ornithological Association, and New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. Many other people have contributed their time shaping the project's methodology and materials.