What skills do I need?
To adopt a Priority Block, you need to be able to identify most of the species expected to breed in that block. However, you do not need to be an expert birder. You can take your field guide, a friend, a mentor, or other identification help into the field and identify species as they occur. It may take a bit longer, but you will learn a lot and learn it quickly. For expert birders, the survey will go more quickly.
How much time will it take?
We expect each Priority Block owner to visit their block throughout a breeding season and cover a diversity of habitats, times of day, and range of breeding dates appropriate for the expected species. Block effort is hard to predict because it depends on the skill of the surveyor, the ease of access to the block, the diversity of habitat within the block, the weather conditions, and the number of potential breeding species. The best estimate from other states is that it takes about 25-30 hours between March and August to complete a block.
How do I find a block to survey?
Survey blocks were determined to be the NE quadrant of every township in the state, although there are a few exceptions. You can browse for Priority Blocks on the Atlas website, www.mnbba.org.
How do I do this? What do I report?
For every species observed, record a code that describes whether there is evidence of breeding (e.g.: heard multiple singing males, a pair observed in suitable habitat, birds carrying nesting materials, recently fledged young, or no evidence of breeding). For special species (rare, colonial, conservation interest) additional information will be needed. The goal is to document as many species as you can with the highest level of breeding evidence you observe. There is a Handbook available on the website with instructions for surveying your block. Additional tips and guidelines are available with the Handbook plus some training will be available.
When do I conduct my survey?
Since the Atlas will document Minnesota’s breeding birds, surveys are conducted between March and August. Because most Minnesota species breed between late-spring through the summer more survey work will be done in June and July. Remember, some species are most active early in the morning, others are more active at dusk, so be sure to make some visits at different times of the day.
Where can I go for help?
Your first point of contact is the Regional Coordinator for your area. You can find their names and contact information on the MN BBA website. You can also contact the state Atlas Coordinator.