Welcome to Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II

Birding in the 21st Century.

News and Features

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?

Atlaser Spotlight: Sarah Besadny

Sarah signed up to Atlas when she moved to the northwoods—a huge change from downtown Philadelphia. Now she's the primary Atlaser for the St. Germain CE block in Vilas County, and co-atlases a second block.

Who are our incredible volunteers? It turns out that once you get past the binoculars, our hundreds of Atlasers 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 have helped the Atlas achieve such tremendous success over the past year.

This month, meet Sarah Besadny of Vilas County!

Finish off your current block… and grab another!


If you’re like us, you probably have one or more blocks that you managed to get 70–80% done last year. Maybe you missed some early nesters, didn’t get out at night, or never quite got into that fantastic patch of unique habitat. The good news is you’re not alone! But now is the time to make plans for finishing them off, and here we offer some suggestions for getting them done and moving on to the next block as efficiently as possible.

Spring has sprung in Wisconsin!

Woodcocks are one species that has returned early to most of the state

The early snowmelt and record-breaking temperatures have caused many early migrants to pour into the state. What does this mean for early season eBirding and Atlasing? Read on to find out.