Atlas Essentials

Atlasing is easy, and something that you’ve probably already been doing without knowing it! This page has everything you need to atlas with confidence.

The only difference between ‘atlasing’ and observing bird behavior is making sure that your checklists follow block boundaries. To be a part of the New York Breeding Bird Atlas, you only need to follow the three easy steps below. The full-length articles linked below have comprehensive explanations if you have further questions.

  • Follow the ‘block’ system
    The entire state is split up into roughly 3 mile x 3 mile squares. These are BBA blocks, and all of your atlas lists need to include birds from only a single block.
  • Learn the codes for bird behavior
    If you watch birds, you already notice bird behavior. With the atlas, you match what you encounter to specific codes (e.g., a singing bird = S; a bird building a nest = NB). Use these codes whenever you see a behavior.
  • Use the NY BBA III atlas portal
    To have your sightings count for the atlas, you need to use this specific portal. You should use the portal for all checklists in NY from now through 2024 when you are following block boundaries and actively keeping an eye out for bird breeding behavior (and noting codes for behaviors you find).
The NY BBA III divides New York state into 5,710 'atlas blocks'—roughly 3 x 3 mile squares used to map New York's breeding birds. While atlasing, your traveling checklists must remain in a single block.
Every time you're out birding, you're observing bird behavior: a song, some territorial squabble, or even a bird building a nest. Matching bird behaviors to specific codes is all you have to do to atlas!
To have your sightings count for the atlas, you must use this specific portal. You should use the portal for all checklists in NY from now through 2024 when you are following block boundaries and actively keeping an eye and ear out for bird breeding behavior (and noting codes for behaviors you find).