The 3rd NY Breeding Bird Atlas officially started today, January 1, 2020.
We hope that you will join thousands of other birders in documenting the
state's breeding species over the next five years. New York is home to a
wonderful and diverse group of breeding birds, but it is a vast region, so
we will need your help! We encourage birders of all backgrounds, from new
birders to experienced Atlasers, to help document as many breeding birds as

The New York Breeding Bird Atlas III website ( contains a lot of great information about
the Atlas, and we encourage you to explore the many resources on the site,
including a new handbook. As the breeding season of many species starts
later in the spring, there will be more Atlas training workshops and other
opportunities to learn about Atlas goals and how atlasing works. If you're
eager to get started right away in January, here are a few key points:

All of the data entry for the project will be via a dedicated eBird portal
for NY Breeding Bird Atlas III. eBird offers real-time data entry and
outputs, so you’ll be able to follow along with results throughout the
breeding season and across the entire project period.

For this Atlas, New York State has been divided into a GPS-based system of
5,710 blocks, each roughly 3.2 miles by 2.8 miles in size which is a change
from previous atlases.* (see
for details) From these new blocks covering the entire state, the Atlas
Team has selected a subset of priority blocks that are evenly distributed
to ensure broad coverage. To complete the Atlas, we need to adequately
survey all of the priority blocks, which make up 1/3 of all Atlas blocks.
Priority blocks contain many popular birding spots and great breeding
habitats in our region, and are where the focus should be. But if your
backyard or favorite birding destination does not fall within a priority
block, you are encouraged to submit your breeding observations for those
areas, too.

A new map overlay ( allows you to search for
priority blocks near you and download detailed block maps. This is also
where you will be able to sign up for blocks. Anybody can atlas in any
Atlas block, so it is not necessary to sign up for a block. But if you are
especially interested in atlasing in a certain block, signing up is a great
way to indicate your interest and commitment in documenting the breeding
birds in that block.

Only a very small number of species, particularly Great Horned Owl, might
be showing signs of breeding behavior in January. If you head up to the
North Country, you might encounter Red and/or White-winged Crossbills
singing or carrying twigs. This chart (
provides very detailed information about when species are breeding in New
York, although I would allow for some variation between the coast and the
High Peaks. In general, breeding codes should only be used for a species if
the species is in the "E" or "B" portion of its breeding calendar.

We realize that for some of you, either atlasing or using eBird will be
new, but don't worry – there are lots of resources to help you learn more.
The Atlas III website is a great place to start. If you have questions,
there's a facebook group at
Working with Atlas Project Coordinator Julie Hart, a team of regional
coordinators will be coordinating Atlas activities across New York State.
Feel free to ask questions or message me. (

Good Atlasing,
Dave Spier (
(My thanks to Matt Medler for allowing me to customize his message.)

*If you helped with the 2nd atlas in 2000-2004, note that the new blocks
for the 3rd atlas have changed. Instead of the old 5X5 km square grid (with
numbers like 3176D), there is now a GPS-based system using the USGS
7.5-minute (arc-minute) Quadrangle ("Quad") maps. Each is divided into six
blocks, two of which are Priority.


NYSbirds-L List Info:


Please submit your observations to eBird:


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