Atlas Essentials

New Zealand Fantail | Rhipidura fuliginosa  © Dan Burgin / Macaulay Library

Atlasing is fun and easy. It is also something that you’ve probably already been doing without knowing it! The general aim of each and every ‘Atlaser’ is to:

Detect all possible species within each grid square over each of the four seasons.

There are a few ‘rules of thumb‘ to follow though, as this is a citizen science project there is an element of structured methodology. We have run through all of these in a series of Webinars we ran through lockdown which are now available to watch on YouTube.

These ‘rules of thumb‘ are summarised below, and full-length articles are linked below with comprehensive explanations.

  • Complete checklists
    During the Atlas we’re encouraging participants to submit complete checklists, rather than incidentals. This means listing everything you were able to identify by sight and sound, without intentionally leaving any species out, giving the ‘full’ picture every time you submit records. We still need information on all those introduced species so don’t leave out the house sparrows!
  • Data Resolution
    Increase the resolution of your checklists over time and space by ensuring your checklists:

    • Last for no less than 5 minutes, and no more than an hour or two
    • Travelling checklists should be split up into roughly 1km sections to increase spatial resolution, avoid crossing grid square boundaries and/or major habitat types too
    • Have accurate abundances or best estimates, no ‘X’s! Even giving a best estimate to the closest 100 of a flock of birds flying overhead is far more valuable than an X as it gives researchers a better gauge on numbers.

  • Submitting Data to a Grid Square
    The entire country is split up into over 3,200 10 x 10km squares. All of your Atlas lists need to include birds from only one square, try not to cross grid square boundaries during travelling checklists. Maps.Me is a great resource for having the NZ Bird Atlas grid on your phone to see where you are, even in remote out of service areas!
  • Major Habitat Types
    It is essential we survey all major habitat types within each grid square to allow us to detect all of the possible species within each square. This helps detect those species that specialise in certain habitats, but also to capture those species that generalise across habitats too. Use the Explore functions to utilise satellite imagery.
  • Use the NZ Bird Atlas portal
    To have your sightings count for the Atlas, you need to use this specific portal. You should use the NZ Bird Atlas portal for all checklists in New Zealand from now through to June 2024!

  • Seasonal Effort
    We are wanting to get a seasonal picture of bird distribution and movements. There is a collective winter, spring, summer and autumn effort, so that means we need to go out to all our spots and obtain data across all four seasons. This helps capture those seasonal changes in bird species numbers, distributions and more.
  • Have fun! There is a huge element of freedom to Atlasing that can be enjoyed whilst still sticking to the above best practices, and we hope everyone enjoys the Atlas challenge as much as we do.

Any questions please just email us, we are here to help you.

Happy Atlasing!