About the Atlas

About the Atlas

A breeding bird atlas is an effort to understand the populations of birds breeding in a specific region. Anyone can help collect data for the atlas—in fact, nearly all atlas data are collected by volunteers.

If you already go birding, you are only one step away from atlasing—simply record breeding behavior you observe using a breeding code and submit the data through the MD-DC BBA3 eBird portal.

If you’d like to learn more, explore the resources available here and connect with the Atlas on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @mddcbba3.

Volunteering is easy and fun!

Anyone can help collect data for the atlas – in fact, nearly all atlas data are collected by volunteers. If you can identify the bird you are watching and match its behavior to a breeding code, you can be an atlaser. Even if you don’t feel confident in your skills yet, you can join a group or partner with an experienced atlaser. Not only will you be contributing data to an important dataset, but you will also be learning more about the birds in your state. Watching bird behavior for evidence of breeding teaches even the most experienced observer about a bird’s life history and leads to exciting discoveries.

If you already go birding, you are only one step away from atlasing. You have already identified and counted the birds you have seen. Now, simply record the behavior you observe and categorize it into one of our breeding codes. Then, submit the data in a checklist through the MD-DC BBA3 eBird portal.

The Value of the MD-DC Atlas

Birds are easy to detect, they have diverse life histories, and they are found in almost every habitat. Together, these characteristics make birds excellent indicators of ecosystem health. By continually tracking bird populations, distributions, and the timing of their breeding, scientists can understand how an ecosystem’s health is changing over time. A breeding bird atlas is an effort to map these three variables, and by repeating atlases scientists can observe any changes. As the pace of environmental change continues to increase, efforts like this atlas become more important than ever. The Maryland and DC Atlas is now on its third cycle of data collection, reflecting the changes that have occurred in local breeding bird populations, land use changes, and the status of endangered bird species in the region. These data will inform land-use planning, public and conservation land management, the status of species at risk, and academic research. As a community science effort, the Atlas also engages people in conservation, introduces folks to birds and to nature, and increases participants’ knowledge and awareness of bird behavior and distribution.

How to Collect Data

Data for the Atlas are collected through the MD-DC BBA3 eBird portal. In other words, if you want to contribute data to the Atlas, submit checklists that contain breeding evidence through the atlas portal, and not the standard eBird page. You can find instructions on how to select the correct portal, plus everything else you need to know about atlasing, in the MD-DC BBA3 Handbook.

About the planning team

If you’d like to sign up for a block, you can contact the County Coordinator for your region. If you have questions about the project itself, you can contact the Atlas Coordinator. If you would like to learn more about the team behind planning the Atlas, you can explore their profiles here. And of course, you can connect with the Atlas on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.