|Golden-winged Warbler||©David Cahlander|
Surveying and recording observations can improve bird identification and observational skills. Craig, an experienced atlaser from Ohio, said “I've found that I pay more attention to the birds I find, and their behavior, than I did before the Atlas. In result, I think I'm a better birder now.”
For some, there is the spirit of adventure whether they choose to survey somewhere familiar or an area they have never explored. Surveyors never know what they will find. "You'll probably be amazed by how many birds and species are found in places where nobody ever really looked too thoroughly", from another Craig , an experienced Surveyor in Ohio. Isn't that one of the great things about birding?
People new to citizen science also have the chance to learn more about the science of bird conservation and to gain skills in recording information methodically and consistently, a skill essential to scientific data collection. Then there are people for whom enjoying a hike in the woods or fields, or watching life in a marsh is more interesting when they are there to ‘bird with a purpose’. There are many great ways to enjoy the outdoors but contributing to a critical conservation project can add even more satisfaction.
For others, it is important to know that they can make a lasting contribution to the preservation and protection of something they care about.
Regardless of your reason for your interest, there are many ways that you can participate:
- Become an Atlas Surveyor and adopt one or more blocks.
- Submit observations as a Field Observer
- Be an Atlas Ambassador and spread the word about the project or help recruit others
- And if you have other special interests, we can probably use those too.
Whether you do it for the birds, for conservation, or for yourself, please join us. Minnesota birds need your help!
A block owner is responsible for completing the survey in their Priority Block. Surveying a block means that all habitat types (but not every inch of the block) and important special features (e.g. airports, bridges, grain elevators) have been covered to find as many species as possible. Most block owners take full responsibility for conducting surveys in their block but other block owners share survey visits with other birders. Also, Field Observers can submit observations from anywhere in the state so their observations that fall within the block are included with the block data. The role of the block owner is to be sure that the data for the block meets completion guidelines. The decision for when a block is complete is made by the surveyor and the coordinator for the region.
Completed Block Surveys
The objective in every block is to record the strongest breeding evidence for every species observed and/or heard in the block. General guidelines for block completion include:
- Survey in the block for 20 hours
- Observe and report a target number of species (determined by region)
- Document Probable or Confirmed breeding evidence for half of the reported species
These are guidelines only and vary from block to block because every block is different. Surveyors’ skills, habitat types and complexity, and ease of access will affect the amount of time and number of visits it will take to complete a block survey. We recommend trying to cover a block within one breeding season (generally March through August) but final visits can be made in subsequent years.
As one experienced surveyor said, “Atlasing is a wonderful balance between disciplined field work and flexible birding . . . At the end of the season, you've had fun in the field, learned a lot about the breeding birds in your block(s), and made a contribution to our knowledge of breeding birds.”
Ready to join us? Click Join the Project on the Home page to register and browse for blocks in your area of interest. And don’t hold back – you can adopt more than one block! Remember, we need to cover all 2352 Priority Blocks by 2013 to complete the Atlas.
This is where all bird enthusiasts can get involved! All reported observations of breeding evidence are important. Whether the evidence indicates observed, probable, possible, or confirmed breeding, it will contribute to what we know about the life cycle of the species.
Field Observers (and Surveyors too) can contribute observations of breeding evidence any time and anywhere. For every observation:
- record the date,
- identify the species,
- report any evidence of breeding (e.g.: courtship behavior, duckling brood) using evidence codes, and
- identify the location of the sighting, either by GPS coordinates, Block ID, or document enough location information so you can find it on a map with Atlas blocks and IDs.
Attribute 15 minutes of effort for these casual observations unless you spent more time within a single block actively surveying.
Review the Handbook with the list of Breeding Evidence codes for additional instructions. Enter your observations on an MNBBA Incidental Reporting Form or if a form is not available, (from a stash in the car?) record the information in your birding notebook or other media and enter the data when you get home.
To enter observations, select Enter Observations on the mnbba.org home page. If it is the first time you have submitted observations, you will be asked to register for the project so you can monitor your contributions.
For everyone, especially those who are not quite confident of their bird identification skills (at least not yet – remember, we are collecting data through the 2013 breeding season), here are more ways to be a valuable contributor to the Atlas project. For these activities, no bird identification skills are required!
- Many local newsletters or newspapers are looking for interesting stories, and the Breeding Bird Atlas is a very interesting story. Write an article – or get text from the Regional or Project Coordinator – and submit it to the paper. You can also contact the local radio station and suggest they cover this story. We have surveyors contributing from around the state so there is always a local angle.
- Staff a table at a bird festival or other local event. It’s a great way to meet other birders and hear some fascinating birding stories.
- Talk with a local organization about the Atlas. We will provide the materials.
- Even if you aren’t a birder, you probably know one or two. Do they know about the Atlas? If they have not heard of the Atlas project, direct them to this website or have them call a coordinator.
If you have ideas about how else we can get more people engaged in the project, please contact the Regional or Project Coordinator. Thanks for your help!
We have great volunteers who:
- Created GIS maps for our Regions and counties
- Edited content and format the Handbook
- Identified organizations and contacts for recruitment
And there is room for you too. We need people to:
- Paddle Minnesota’s waterways
- Bike Minnesota’s trails
- Contribute photographs
- Write articles
- Enter observation data for others
- Help with administrative tasks
What would you like to do? Just send your name and interest to the Project Coordinator at email@example.com. Thanks!