The first annual Big Atlas Weekend was a success with 435 atlasers in NY documenting 206 species and submitting 1888 checklists the weekend of June 25-27! We held several challenges in different categories and randomly selected from eligible checklists to choose winners. Winners received a free course of their choosing from the Cornell Lab’s Bird Academy. Congratulations to Jerry Skinner for submitting a complete Atlas checklist with at least one coded species!
Hometown or county
Ithaca, Tompkins County [formerly Susquehanna Co., PA]
How you started birding
As a 20 year old I joined the bird walks led by Bert Szabo in the Akron [OH] Metropolitan Parks, so it’s been 50 years now.
My next new one!
Motivation to atlas
It’s birding with a purpose! I’ve done breeding bird censuses, BBS routes, and worked on both PA atlases. It’s knowing that the skills of this hobby, honed over a lifetime, can make a contribution to real science.
Favorite atlasing area
The next underworked priority block I’m going to visit!
Most rewarding part of atlasing
It’s very fulfilling knowing that data I collected while doing citizen science has been used in serious research papers, such as Ken Rosenberg’s recent landmark paper, Decline of the North American avifauna [learn more about the paper at 3billionbirds.org].
Favorite atlasing discovery
Like everyone, it’s finding the unexpected, such as Ospreys nest building atop a grain elevator in heavily farmed agriculture lands. In PA I found a wetland close to home that I didn’t know about…and it yielded Sora and Virginia Rail, American and Least Bittern, Common Gallinule and Marsh Wren over the span of the atlas.
Advice for someone “on the fence” about participating
Atlasing ranks among the most fun birding that I do! You can start a new list every day. You pay attention to even everyday common species, checking to see whether that chickadee has a caterpillar in its mouth or being happy to see Rock Doves and House Sparrows [every one counts!]