Our first winter season is now complete!

By NZ Bird Atlas team September 9, 2019
New Zealand Bird Atlas first winter season effort map (Image courtesy of eBird/Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

What an amazing first season the New Zealand Bird Atlas has had! In just three months we have already had over 11,000 checklists submitted from more than 360 participants. Over 1300 of the 3229 grid squares have at least one complete checklist submitted – this represents over 40% of the grid squares in the country!

Blackbird was reported in nearly three quarters of grid squares surveyed so far, making it the most widely observed bird species during the first season of the Atlas. The fantail was the second most widely observed species, and topped the list for our native and endemic bird species.

The Atlas effort map on eBird has been lighting up in response to all of this early survey effort, with checklists pouring in from all over New Zealand, including from as far north as the Three Kings Islands (grid square ZY44), as far south as Port Pegasus on Stewart Island (grid square EO11) and as far east as the Tuku Nature Reserve on Chatham Island (grid square RK23).  Congratulations to all of our observers who have managed to get themselves to such far-flung parts of New Zealand already! BZ66 in Wellington has shot ahead and now has the title of most species within a single grid square.

The launch of the New Zealand Bird Atlas has also had a substantial impact on the number of users and checklists submitted New Zealand eBird database.  For example, there were over three times as many checklists submitted in June 2019 as there were in June 2018, by far the largest annual increase for a calendar month that we’ve ever recorded in New Zealand.

The fact that the New Zealand Bird Atlas has got off to such a strong start is a huge credit to the 360-plus volunteer observers who have submitted so many high-quality bird checklists.  Thanks to the input of each and every one of you, we are on-track to collecting between 2.5 and 3 million bird observations over the 5-year lifespan of this project, creating a unique resource that will guide the conservation of New Zealand’s unique birds for decades to come.

Please keep up the good work, and happy atlasing everyone!