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Atlantic Puffins Photo: Laura Tranquilla

By Dr. Catherine Dale, Newfoundland Breeding Bird Atlas Coordinator, Birds Canada


This summer marks the official launch of the first Newfoundland Breeding Bird Atlas – and we need help from birders (experienced and beginner alike) to make it a success!

The breeding bird atlas is a five-year effort to map the distribution and abundance of all bird species breeding on the island of Newfoundland. Having baseline data about bird populations is essential for making sound conservation decisions; we can’t know what we’re losing if we don’t know what’s out there. The project is undertaken with support from the Government of Canada.

A backyard bird atlas

Despite the world’s troubles, spring is on the way and all across Canada, our birds are returning from their southern wintering grounds. The freely available entertainment they offer can help us escape from the anxiety of current events by connecting to nature…right where we are.

Over the next five years, we will be working to ensure atlas surveys are spread out across Newfoundland so that the island’s wide variety of habitats are adequately represented. But we need to put health and safety first, so at the moment, Birds Canada has suspended any fieldwork or surveys that require travel.

But although we all need to stay home for now, we can continue birding in our backyards and from our balconies. In fact, there’s no better time to start learning how to atlas. All you need is a pair of binoculars, a keen eye, and some time to watch birds!

Atlassing from home

Atlassing at home is simple! All you need to do is identify the birds you see and record their behaviour. Are they singing? Perhaps carrying nesting material or even food for chicks? Take note and then submit that data to Birds Canada online. The Atlas team will be here to support you with online workshops about atlassing and bird ID, atlasser materials and maps, and advice on how to collect and submit your data.

How to get involved

On our website, you’ll find more information about the atlas and a link to sign up to participate. You can keep up with news and find out about upcoming workshops on our Facebook page, or email me, Catherine Dale, at for more information.

Join us and help put Newfoundland’s backyard birds on the map! It’s a great way to practice your birding skills and really get to know your own neighbourhood. And if you enjoy the experience, we encourage you to take your skills on the road when your local public health recommendations allow!

Photo: Catherine Dale

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