Final Season Sprint

By Julie Hart 9 Feb 2024
Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Originally published in the Spring 2024 issue of New York Birders by Julie Hart

It’s hard to believe, but this is the final year of the third NY Breeding Bird Atlas. We have already accomplished so much, with more data collected than any other bird atlas in the US. We are so excited to have you helping us in our final sprint this year to fill in remaining gaps and make this atlas the biggest success it can be!

We still face large gaps in areas with low population, such as Steuben and Sullivan counties, the Catskills, and the entire North Country. Because we still have so many blocks in these areas with little to no coverage, we ask atlasers to spread their effort out as much as possible this year.

Atlas Effort Map. Just 448 Center-East (CE) blocks are left to complete. Use the Atlas Effort Map to find an incomplete block near you.

In this final year, we need you to atlas in the remaining incomplete Center-East (CE) blocks. Code as many species as you can in all major habitat types in 15 hours between May 15 and July 15. We’ll mark blocks complete when they’ve reached 15 hours of effort so you know when to move on.

CE Blocks. The state is divided up by topo quads and each quad is split into 6 blocks. Center-East (CE) blocks are the focus for the final season.

We are aiming to get at least 15 hours of atlasing in all the remaining CE blocks during the peak breeding season so that we have a baseline amount of data statewide. We currently have gaps in some regions (e.g., Adirondacks, Alleghenies), and if we don’t at least have some breeding codes documented in those areas, we won’t be able to assess how those species are faring. You should move on to other blocks after 15 hours of atlasing during the peak breeding season (May 15 – July 15).

Although you should focus your atlasing efforts in the peak breeding season, you should still code any breeding birds from now through the end of 2024. Not all species breed in the peak season, so if you hear owls duetting or a woodcock doing its sky dance, report them.

While the focus this year is on incomplete CE blocks in the peak breeding season of May 15 – July 15, all data are useful and will be incorporated into the final product. Observations submitted outside of the peak breeding season, in nonpriority and complete blocks, using any eBird protocol, and with any breeding code contributes to the Atlas. You’d be surprised how many common species do not have a breeding code, particularly for what many birders consider “junk” birds, like Rock Pigeon, European Starling, and House Sparrow. These birds count, too! Play it safe and code everything you observe.

Join us in making the Atlas a huge success. To make the biggest impact with your limited atlasing time, focus on incomplete CE blocks.

Happy atlasing!

Blocks by county. Are there incomplete blocks near where you live or vacation?

Atlas resources

If you want personalized suggestions of where your atlasing can make the biggest impact, email the Atlas Team at

For atlasing tips and tricks, check out the videos on our YouTube channel:

For atlas guides and materials, check out our website:

Pose your atlasing questions and share stories from the field on our Facebook Discussion Group: