Date: 4/13/18 2:38 pm From: Doug Hitchcox <dhitchcox...> Subject: [Maine-birds] Introducing the Maine Bird Atlas
It is my pleasure to introduce a new project by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife: The Maine Bird Atlas (2018-2022). This will be a five year citizen science project aimed at atlasing the breeding and winter birds of Maine and it is launching now! Breeding season is upon us and we will need all of your help to document nesting birds around the state. You can learn everything about the project at: www.maine.gov/birdatlas
To collect data for this project we will be using a new eBird portal called the Maine Bird Atlas (https://ebird.org/atlasme/). This portal has new atlas-specific tools like the ability to explore blocks, and range maps that include breeding evidence. It is important that you only submit checklists to this portal that include at least one breeding code. General birding (any checklists without a breeding code) should be submitted to the Maine eBird Portal (https://ebird.org/me/home). The one caveat to this is that “possible” breeding codes (S-Singing Bird, or H-In Appropriate Habitat) must fall within the “safe dates” for that species. These safe dates are intentionally tight to eliminate the possibility of migratory birds improperly being labelled as breeders. For example, Eastern Bluebirds are still migrating so no singing birds should be entered in the atlas until May 10th (the safe date from the Volunteer Handbook) but any probable or confirmed codes can be entered, like this Eastern Bluebird that was building a nest at Gilsland Farm yesterday: https://ebird.org/atlasme/view/checklist/S44492644. These safe dates and explanations of breeding codes are all in the Volunteer Handbook (linked above).
To help get everyone trained there will be lots of opportunities at information sessions or full trainings which are listed on the state’s website or at the Maine Bird Atlas Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/mainebirdatlas/events/. Feel free to contact me directly if you know of an organization willing to host a training near you.
This is going to be a really fun opportunity for birders over the next five years to get a richer understanding of the birds that call Maine home. In the few weeks I’ve been looking for breeding activity, I’ve had a few great experiences with species I’d otherwise not pay much attention to: the Rock Pigeons at Pine Point switched from carrying nesting material on March 28th (https://ebird.org/atlasme/view/checklist/S44037330) to incubating eggs or having an “occupied nest” on April 8th (https://ebird.org/atlasme/view/checklist/S44374208). On the slightly more charismatic end of the scale, the Bald Eagle at Prouts Neck appears to be feeding chicks now (https://ebird.org/atlasme/view/checklist/S44427031). Check out the breeding map for Bald Eagles: https://tinyurl.com/y7om7vkk. There are already 12 blocks with confirmed breeding! Are there any occupied nests near you that can be added? And Rob Ostrowski’s post Wednesday about confirming Fish Crows in Bangor is probably the northeastern-most breeding record for that species, one that wasn’t detected breeding anywhere in Maine’s first atlas (1978-1983).
No matter your birding skill level, your sightings are valuable. Whether you report a chickadee (or even House Sparrow) using your backyard nest box or want to take a weekend trip to recording singing warblers in the Woods and Waters National Monument, all reports are welcome! You can be as involved as entering incidental breeding records you observe or adopting a block near your home or encompassing your favorite patch. I’ll be sharing more updates as the atlas progresses but I wanted to make sure everyone was aware of this project so you can keep track of early nesters.
Good birding and happy atlasing!
Maine Bird Atlas - Outreach Coordinator
Maine Audubon - Staff Naturalist