The upcoming meeting of the High Country Audubon Society, which is set to take place on March 17, will feature a presentation by Ashley Peele who will provide a brief overview of Virginia’s second Breeding Bird Atlas project, share interesting preliminary results and stories from the field and discuss project goals for the final field season.
Southwestern Virginia will be the primary focal region for the upcoming field season, and many of the target species/habitats flow across the North Carolina and Virginia border.
BBA projects have occurred in most states across the United States, and North Carolina is one of just a few states without a published atlas of breeding and wintering species of birds. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and its partners including Audubon North Carolina, are exploring the possibilities of beginning a statewide Atlas project in 2021.
Atlas projects provide useful information regarding bird distribution, relative and absolute abundance across all habitats of the state. This data can then inform conservation activities and plans for the Wildlife Resources Commission and other partners. But these projects also attract and strengthen the diversity of partnerships required to accomplish bird conservation by engaging the public in meaningful science and conservation work.
Despite birds being well-documented and -reported across the state, there is much to learn about dozens of species including the number of each species North Carolina hosts and how they are distributed. This baseline of data can then also be used to track how conservation efforts are progressing when an atlas project is repeated in the future.
Conducting a bird atlas provides a unique opportunity to simultaneously engage and inform the public who will contribute to the collection of valuable data. To be complete and comprehensive, North Carolina requires volunteer surveys of more than 800 survey grids, which would engage approximately 1,400 citizen scientists during six years of survey efforts. Successful atlases in other states hire a full-time coordinator whose duties are primarily to recruit volunteers.
These volunteers will then make use of the eBird platform for reporting bird sightings, tracking that effort in real time and directing volunteer birders to under-surveyed parts of the state. The results of the survey are then analyzed using state of the art statistical methods to produce a document detailing the effort and the findings. These efforts require up to five years of data collection and a couple of years of analysis. They only succeed with huge public effort and support. Visit www.ebird.org to learn more.
Learn more about the High Country Audubon club and its conservation efforts by joining the the group for its monthly meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, at the Holiday Inn Express, located at 1943 Blowing Rock Road in Boone. For more information, visit the High Country Audubon Facebook page or its website at http://highcountryaudubon.org/.