By LeeAnn Latremouille, Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas Coordinator, Bird Studies Canada
As winter slowly but surely gives way to spring, the Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas team is busily preparing for the 2018 field season. Plans are being laid for northern excursions, field crews are being assembled, and workshops have begun. We’re excited to build on last season’s results and we are looking forward to engaging with even more birders and wildlife enthusiasts from across the province!
A large volunteer base is needed to carry out the project. 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.
Did you know that the project can help support your atlas-related travel? Remote Travel Grants are available to cover mileage and a daily stipend for volunteers travelling within Saskatchewan to remote or under-surveyed locations with the intention of conducting point counts or significant general atlassing. This small pool of funds must be spent on volunteer travel, so apply today! In addition, as a charitable organization, Bird Studies Canada can provide charitable receipts (in the form of a cheque exchange) for mileage and other expenses incurred while surveying anywhere in the province. We would love to help you get out atlassing across Saskatchewan!
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. Workshops are currently planned for Hudson Bay on May 25 and Yorkton on May 27. More workshops at the Battlefords, Val Marie, and Foam Lake are in the works. If you are interested in bringing a workshop to your community and can gather an audience of at least six attendees, please get in touch with Bird Studies Canada’s Saskatchewan office!
We would also like to extend a big thank-you to all of our 260 volunteer atlassers. So far, this intrepid team has contributed over 38,400 observations of 250 bird species, logging just over 2400 hours outdoors for the project! Observations have been collected from across the province, from the southern border all the way up to the northeast corner, with 720 atlas squares reporting data. We’re already beginning to gain valuable insights into our breeding bird populations.
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 support to the atlas so far: Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment’s Fish and Wildlife Development Fund, Weyerhaeuser, Orano, K+S Potash Canada, MEC, Wildlife Habitat Canada, Tolko Industries, SaskPower, SaskEnergy, the James L. Baillie Memorial Fund, Nature Regina, Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, Saskatoon Community Foundation, and Pristine Gemstone Jewelry.