How to Atlas

The Maryland & DC Breeding Bird Atlas 3 (MD-DC BBA3) is a comprehensive survey of the birds breeding in the Maryland and DC regions.  Volunteer atlasers collect data on breeding evidence using eBird.

Below are some of the most important steps atlasers should take to provide high quality data:

      • Use the MD-DC BBA3 eBird portal – only data entered through this eBird portal will be used for the Atlas, so don’t use the standard eBird portal to enter atlas data.
      • Short checklists – keep the distance for traveling checklists under three miles and don’t cross block boundaries. Ideally, a single checklist will be for a single major habitat type (e.g., forest, agriculture, wetland) and for a single property type (e.g., park, state forest, wildlife management area, sanctuary).
      • Independent, complete checklists – checklists should include all the species you identified, and each checklist is independent of any other checklist. This means that the breeding codes you use should reflect what you observed on the current checklist. Do not use the breeding codes from previous checklists to guide which breeding codes you do or do not include on your current checklist.
      • Code each species – if you observe breeding evidence for a species within its safe date, provide that code in your checklist, even for common species. And if you observe a species that isn’t breeding, it should still be included on the checklist—just leave the breeding code blank. The Atlas will be able to create stronger inferences about distribution and reproductive phenology if more data are available.
      • Provide details for species of special interest – provide as many details as possible, including precise location, habitat, and number of nests, eggs, or young, and make an extra effort to confirm breeding.
      • Contact the County Coordinator if you find a sensitive species – sensitive species include Northern Goshawk, rare owls, and Swainson’s Warbler. If you observe these species, contact the County Coordinator before submitting the checklist.

Atlaser Resources

A list of links to all the main resources for atlasers. Consider saving this to your desktop so everything is only one click away!