Add Breeding Codes to Your Checklists: The Breeding Bird Atlas is Never Complete at Vermont eBird!

By Kent McFarland May 5, 2021
Bicknell's Thrush Catharus bicknelli

The Second Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Vermont (2003-2007), a project of the Vermont Atlas of Life, was an amazing effort by the birding community. Many of us searched the state to document breeding bird species. The atlas collected important conservation information and it was a lot of fun. Many of us miss it! But with Vermont eBird, the atlas never ends! We want you to keep documenting the nesting status of the birds you are finding.

You can make your eBird sightings even more valuable by adding breeding information. How? The Vermont eBird data entry system has the ability to enter highest-level breeding codes along with your bird observations on both the website and the smartphone app!

Entering Breeding and Behavior Codes

To enter these codes on eBird Mobile, tap a species name to pull up the “Observation Details” menu, tap “Breeding Code” to access the menu, and then choose the highest-ranking code from the list (the lower down, the higher-ranking).

You can also add these codes from the eBird website as you enter data on Step 3 or by clicking the “Edit Species” button. Once you’ve found the species you want to enter a code for, click the “Add Details” button next to the species in the checklist, select “Breeding Code” from the tabs that appear, and then choose the highest-ranking code that you observed for that species on this checklist.

Adding breeding code information on the Vermont eBird website.

Perhaps you saw an American Crow carrying nesting material or a chickadee excavating a nest hole. Maybe you found an eagle nest while paddling. Whatever breeding evidence you observed and no matter the bird species, it’s all important for the eBird database. Our goal is to collect information about the timing and locations of bird nesting. This will be the first continuous, year-round, worldwide, breeding bird atlas effort. Breeding Bird Atlases have been conducted in many countries, states, and provinces around the world and have taught us much about where and when birds are breeding. This eBird effort differs in a few fundamental ways.

There are no “safe dates”. Many atlases make assumptions about the breeding status of a species based on where and when it occurs. At eBird, you provide these specifics with your complete bird checklists and in the future we hope to be able to use these data to automatically identify periods of breeding or probable breeding.

Although our breeding codes are listed as confirmed, probable, or possible, we realize this listing is highly dependent on species, location, and date and in many cases may require a bit more information before being useful for establishing breeding presence of a species. These are meant as a general guide; the more important thing is to record the behaviors observed. Future users of the data can analyze the data in conjunction with local understanding of status to make their own assumptions about breeding based on the location, date, and behaviors observed.

You can access your collected breeding code information from each checklist’s observation report and through “download my data“. Using the download option allows you to see all breeding records that you have submitted to date.

eBird currently does not have any data output (i.e., under ‘View and Explore Data’) associated with this information (although as the data accumulates, the development of output graphics moves higher on the task list). We can provide the data to interested parties upon request.

We hope you’ll help us to keep tracking the locations and phenology of Vermont’s breeding birds using eBird.

Learn more at eBird Help!


When you observe breeding evidence, add it to your checklists for each species.