Welcome to Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II

Birding in the 21st Century.

News and Features

Tricky Codes IV: Atlasing season is almost over, but not yet!

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There is still plenty of activity and atlas codes to be found, especially confirmations. Although it’s not as easy to assume breeding as it has been for the past couple months, atlasers will still be rewarded with confirmations for the next couple weeks. Read on to learn what situations you can still confidently confirm breeding, when it’s likely too late, which codes to use, and some other tips for atlasing during this tricky end of the season period.

Warning: Migrants Ahead!

Did this Cape May Warbler just arrive in your block, or did it breed there? Photo by Nick Anich.

It’s a great time to atlas right now, with lots of young birds about. But are you sure all the birds you’re seeing right now actually nested in your block? Read on for 5 tips on atlasing in August.

Atlaser Spotlight: Anne Geraghty

Anne Geraghty

Who are our incredible volunteers? With more than 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 Anne Geraghty of Eau Claire County!

Tricky coding Part III: Distraction Displays vs. Agitation vs. Territoriality

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We’re now in the middle of the breeding season, with pretty much all of our breeding species either nesting or raising young. It’s easy to see a bird is breeding if it’s on a nest or carrying food but other breeding behaviors are harder to decipher. This usually involves some type of aggressive abnormal behavior, ranging from territoriality or agitation (probable codes) to a distraction display (a confirmed code). The differences between these have caused quite a bit of confusion to atlasers so Part 3 of our Tricky Codes series is devoted to differentiating these codes.

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

JackSwelstad

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

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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!