Monday, June 8, 2009

One Month of Atlasing

Posted by Kirk
As mentioned previously, I've taken on the task of coordinating the atlasing of section T31R20a for the Minnesota Breeding Bird Atlas. So far, it has been really interesting. As a participant, you try to identify which birds are breeding in a specified area of land (approximately 9 square miles.) Birds are classified into confirmed breeders, probable breeders or possible breeders. The goal is to get as many birds as possible into as high a category as possible.

There are still many available blocks around the state that need people to take them on so if you're interested in birds be sure to sign up. Many metro locations are still up for grabs as well. Out in ye ol' block T31R20a we've confirmed 16 species. Most of these involve either seeing eggs in a nest or parents sitting on a nest. The confirmed category is the hardest since you usually have to find the actual nests. My co-worker Paul just spotted a warbling vireo nest last week which was a great find. The other way to confirm breeding is to catch a female with a brood patch. That's how we added Black0capped Chickadee, Song Sparrow and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Canada Goose
Wild Turkey
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Blue Jay
Eastern Phoebe
Tree Swallow
Bald Eagle (Eaglet's visible in nest!)
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
Warbling Vireo
Black-capped Chickadee
Song sparrow

The probable list are those birds that we have not found nests for but they are numerous, singing, defending territory, etc. There are 14 species on this list right now.

Red-tailed Hawk
American Woodcock
Barred Owl
Red-eyed Vireo
Yellow Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Common Grackle
House Wren

The possible list is the most frustrating for me because it includes many species I know breed here but in order to say for sure that they are breeding I need better data. There are 15 birds on this list. Basically, if they are on the possible list it means I've seen them here and they are within the dates they are known to breed but I haven't found actual breeding evidence. I can probably move a bunch of these onto the probable list with a little work.

Great Egret
Wood Duck
Ring-necked Pheasant
American Kestrel
Turkey Vulture
Sandhill Crane
Mourning Dove
Belted Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
American Crow
Common Raven
White-breasted Nuthatch
Gray Catbird