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It’s Saskatchewan’s First Atlas Season!


Blue-winged Teal Photo: David Messmer

The first season of fieldwork is now underway for the Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas, the largest Citizen Science project to ever be attempted in the province! The official launch event was co-organized by Bird Studies Canada and Nature Saskatchewan, and took place at Last Mountain Bird Observatory on International Migratory Bird Day, May 13. Many thanks to all who came out and made the event a success.

We’re excited to see this atlas project get rolling, especially because of the potential it has to benefit Saskatchewan’s birds. Over the next five years, volunteer “atlassers” will collect observations of breeding birds throughout the province, creating a snapshot of their distribution and relative abundance. Like other atlas projects Bird Studies Canada has led or collaborated on, the Saskatchewan atlas will follow a standardized methodology, and will be repeated every 20 years to detect changes in bird populations over time. The data will be stored in a complete and fully-searchable database, and will be available for a wide range of uses by scientists, environmental assessors, biologists, municipal planners, students, and others. Notably, the atlas will serve as a valuable resource to inform conservation decision-making.

A large volunteer base is needed to carry out the project. And now that breeding season has arrived, it’s time to get out and survey for birds! You don’t have to be a birding expert to contribute. You just need to be confident in the identification of the birds you report. Atlassing is actually a great way to gain more experience and add to your knowledge of birds. Please visit the Saskatchewan atlas website to register, download atlasser resources, and learn more. We also invite you to learn more about the atlas, and how it will benefit birds and people, in our new BirdWatch Canada feature article.

We applaud the Regional Coordinators who have been working hard to get this program up and running. Collectively, they’ve provided valuable input into the development of data forms, species lists, and other resources, and have taken a leading role in spreading the word, getting people motivated, and organizing training workshops across the province. The efforts of these dedicated individuals are greatly appreciated.

The Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas is the result of a partnership between Bird Studies Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Nature Saskatchewan, and the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation. We also thank the sponsors who have provided financial or in-kind support to the atlas so far: Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment’s Fish and Wildlife Development Fund, MEC, Wildlife Habitat Canada, the James Baillie Memorial Fund, Nature Regina, Sakâw Askiy Management Inc., and Weyerhaeuser.

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