Handbook & Materials

Everything you need to conduct surveys!

Snapshot of the Guide to Fledglings

Quick Links


A user guide containing background on the project, when and where to survey, how to collect and submit data, how to determine adequate block coverage, and how to report rare species.

Volunteer Handbook (last updated 2021-07-01)

Block Maps

Use the interactive map viewer to download individual block maps. Block maps are provided as GeoPDFs so you can use a GPS app to see your location in the field.

Interactive Mapper (download individual block maps or sign-up to be Principal Atlaser for a block)

Use block outlines to navigate in the field (learn how in this article).

Priority block outlines (kmz)
Shapefile of all blocks (zipped)
Open access lands (kmz)

Breeding Behavior References

Breeding Codes

The list of breeding codes we will be using, their definitions, and examples of usage. Also see the breeding code page.

Breeding Codes – Detailed with examples
Breeding Codes – Two-pager for printing
Breeding Codes – Photographic

Breeding Timeline

A guideline to when each species winters, migrates, and breeds in NY.

Breeding Guideline Bar Chart (PDF)
Breeding Guideline Bar Chart (sortable Excel file)
Breeding Season Table from Atlas 2000 (PDF)

Acceptable Codes

A chart with the codes that are acceptable to use for each species. Use this chart to determine when you can use S – Singing Bird for species that don’t sing but make other breeding sounds, FL – Recently Fledged Young for precocial species, and CF – Carrying Food for species that use food in their courtship rituals.

Acceptable Breeding Codes

Atlasing Guides

  • Grassland Birds – A deep dive into grassland birds and their breeding behaviors.
  • Nocturnal Birds – A how to for atlasing at night including tips for 18 species.
  • Understanding Bird Behavior – A primer on all types of bird behaviors.
  • Early Nesters – A guide to 30 species that breed in Jan-Apr.
  • Early spring breeders – A guide to birds that breed in the first half of May.
  • Marsh Birds – A guide to finding secretive marsh birds.
  • Fledglings – A short guide for recognizing fledglings. Features the top 20 most frequently reported species from the second Atlas.
  • Late nesting species – A guide to birds that breed in August.
  • Hints On Haunts – The Hints on Haunts guidelines were compiled during the first atlas and contain tips on confirming over 70 species of breeding birds.

Species Spotlights

Field Materials

Field Cards

If you aren’t using the mobile app, here are some data sheets to help you record your observations in the field.

Field Checklist (record each visit)
Block Summary Card (track block progress)

Landowner Letters

A letter to introduce private landowners to the project and request permission to access their land. A thank you letter for after you visit is also provided.

Landowner Letter – Introduction
Landowner Letter – Thank You

Vehicle Sign

Placard for placing on your windshield while conducting surveys. Please obey all traffic laws and respect private property.

Vehicle Placard

Car Magnet

Visit our online shop to purchase a car magnet to put on your car while conducting surveys.

Car Magnet (Zazzle)

Nightjar Surveys

Nightjar surveys take place in the two weeks surrounding the full moons in May and June. Surveys target all three nightjars nesting in NY: Common Nighthawk, Eastern Whip-poor-will, and Chuck-will’s-widow.

Nightjar survey information

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