About the Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas

Our Vision:

From the swamps of the east to the mountains of the west, Virginia’s birds represent a rich cultural and ecological heritage, a living legacy whose loss would threaten our own identity.

Nature and its preservation is the province of all people.

Northern Saw-whet Owl Captive (_MG_3708)

Northern Saw-whet Owl by Bob Schamerhorn

What is the breeding bird atlas?

The second VA breeding bird atlas (VABBA2) is a survey of all bird species breeding in the state. The data collected will be used to map the distribution and status of Virginia’s breeding bird community.

Why is the VABBA2 so important?

Over 25 years have passed since the completion of the first atlas in VA and many environmental changes have occurred.  Climate change and other anthropogenic causes are rapidly changing the conditions that birds and other wildlife must cope with in order to survive. Data collected for the VABBA2 can tell us when birds are forming territories, building nests, laying eggs, fledging chicks, as well as their distributions among different habitats throughout the state.  Atlas surveys can assess how bird communities are responding to these changes.  

Who collects the data?

The VABBA2 is a citizen science project and volunteers conduct most of the key data collection.  Virginia has a strong birding community that we hope will partner with the Virginia Ornithological Society (VSO) and Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) to accomplish the largest bird conservation effort in the state to date.

We also strongly encourage folks who have an interest in birds, nature, or outdoor recreation, but may not yet be birders, to use this as an opportunity to learn about and become involved with a critically important conservation project.

How does it differ from everyday birding?

Volunteers collect information not only on the identity and number of birds they observe, but also evidence of breeding behavior.  BBAs use a series of breeding codes to describe the different types of breeding behavior that may be observed (See Handbook and Materials page for more details).  Survey data will be entered into this VA BBA eBird portal.

VABBA2 Partners

Several organizations have committed to fully support the VABBA2 over its 5-year span, including the Virginia Society of Ornithology (VSO), and Virginia Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF).  Given the size and range of habitats in Virginia, these organizations seek to partner with local bird and conservation groups to carry out the atlas surveys.

The Atlas Coordinator, Dr. Ashley Peele, is an Avian Ecologist based at the CMI in Blacksburg. In order to educate and inform folks about the upcoming VABBA2, she is visiting bird clubs, Audubon chapters, and other environmental groups around the state.  If you are interested having her speak to your local chapter, please contact her at ashpeele@vt.edu.

A steering committee oversees the Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas.  Members of this committee were instrumental in launching this second BBA for Virginia.

VABBA2 Steering Committee:

Sergio Harding (VDGIF Biologist)

Becky Gwynn (VDGIF Assistant Bureau Director)

Amy Ewing (VDGIF Biologist)

Jeff Trollinger (VDGIF Deputy Bureau Director and Acting VSO President)

Bill Williams (VSO Board Member)

Rexanne Bruno (VSO President, 2009-2011)

Joe Coleman (VSO President, 2013-2015)

Scott Klopfer (Conservation Management Institute Director – Virginia Tech)