Welcome to Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II

Birding in the 21st Century.

News and Features

Tricky Coding Part II – Don’t Code Me!!

Terns are an example of a group that should not be given possible or probable codes

Although we’re now in the prime of breeding season, not everything using appropriate habitat should be given codes. Exceptions include gulls, terns, pelicans, cormorants, herons, waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, and some songbirds. Read on to see the details of situations where you should hold off on giving a code

June eBirder of the Month Challenge — Let’s get a Wisconsin Win!

If you are lucky enough to find a Pileated Woodpecker nest with young, you would select the breeding code NY, the highest level of breeding confirmation. Then go brag to your friends.

The June eBirder of the month challenge is practically tailor-made for Atlasers. In fact, many of you may be well on your way to having completed the challenge, and we’re only a week into June! To qualify, an eBird user must submit at least 20 complete checklists containing at least one breeding code during June. Easy for an Atlaser, right? Let’s see if one of our own can take home this prize!

Atlaser Spotlight: Jack Swelstad


Who are our incredible volunteers? With nearly 1000 Atlasers, it’s no surprise that once you get past the binoculars our volunteers are as varied as the bird species they observe. This series turns the spotlight on a few of the many dedicated men and women who are helping the Atlas achieve such tremendous success as we work our way through our second year.

This month, meet Jack Swelstad of Brown County!

Species Survey Strategy – Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk in flight. Wikimedia Commons/Leppyone

Along with other aerial insectivores that capture insects while in flight, Common Nighthawks are of high conservation interest in Wisconsin because they are a declining species, a similar situation to that of Chimney Swifts. Nighthawks are distinctive in their flight style, steep courtship dives, and habit of nesting on flat roofs, as well as in open-country habitats with some bare soil. It can be difficult to confirm breeding, especially in urban locations due to the inaccessibility of rooftop sites, so here we offer tips for finding and confirming this unique species in your Atlas block.

Species Survey Strategy – Secretive Sedge Meadow Specialists

Three of Wisconsin's coolest breeders are hiding in sedge meadows. Will the atlas reveal new locations for these species of conservation concern?      

Le Conte's Sparrow by Nick Anich

Three secretive resident birds can be found across northern sedge meadows in the state’s northern tier counties and include the Yellow Rail, Le Conte’s Sparrow, and Nelson’s Sparrow. All are at the southern or southeastern limits of their continental range in Wisconsin and generally reside in low densities, making them highly-sought after among birders. Each is a state Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) with Yellow Rail listed as state Threatened and the others as Special Concern. These secretive species largely call during nighttime hours or around sunset/sunrise and require some specialized survey efforts. The Atlas will play a key role in understanding the current status of these priority species. This document outlines tips and strategies to improve your chances of finding them.

Atlas Opening Weekend


Prime-time summer atlasing is almost upon us, and we’re staging Opening Weekend events throughout Wisconsin on the weekends of June 4 & 5 and June 11 & 12 to celebrate.

How do Atlas Opening Weekend events work?

Step 1: Head out to a local hotspot for a few hours with expert local birders and Atlas County Coordinators to gather data.
Step 2: Return to civilization, fire up some laptops and enter your findings into the Atlas eBird portal!

Species Survey Strategy – Chimney Swift

Photo by Jim McCulloch (via Wikimedia Commons)

Chimney Swifts, along with other aerial insectivores that eat insects while in flight, are of high interest in Wisconsin as they are a declining species. Swifts spend nearly their entire lives on the wing, only roosting at night or nesting inside chimneys, other structures such as silos, or rarely in trees, making it very difficult […]

Mobile atlas data entry — now one step easier!


An update to the eBird mobile app has now made it possible to default your mobile checklists to the Atlas portal. This is good news, but there are still some additional steps to take when atlasing via mobile device. Read on for a quick summary of the current situation.

May eBirder of the Month Challenge

Scarlet Tanager by Brian Sullivan/Macaulay Library

Atlasers take note: submit 5 or more complete no-X checklists on Saturday May 14 (eBird’s Global Big Day) and you’ll be in the running for free 8 x 42 Zeiss binoculars!

Tricky Coding Part I – Early Season Issues – when to code, and when to wait


This 4-part series titled “Tricky Coding” will address the most confusing situations from last year and serve as a study guide and reference for when these situations arise again. Being familiar with these articles will help everyone improve the quality of the Atlas data. We begin the series by addressing a timely issue since we’re in the middle of the passerine migration — when do you know it’s time to begin safely coding?