Photo: Mark Peck
By Liz Purves, Director, Ontario Program, Birds Canada
It’s hard to believe, but the much-anticipated third Breeding Bird Atlas in Ontario is just around the corner. This ambitious, province-wide project to document the distribution and abundance of all breeding bird species in Ontario is set to launch in 2021. If you are available to go birding in the province over the next few years, we hope you’ll join the volunteer effort!
Breeding Bird Atlas projects are typically repeated once every 20 years in a given jurisdiction. Each project requires five years of field data collection to complete. The 2021-25 Atlas will make Ontario the first province or territory in Canada to undertake its third bird atlas.
Bird atlases provide invaluable data for conservation. Data are collected primarily by thousands of volunteer birders who survey 10 x 10-km squares across the province to collect breeding evidence for as many bird species as possible. Participants can also complete five-minute point counts, which involve identifying birds, primarily by song, at fixed stations. Data collected as part of repeated atlas efforts help us to understand how bird populations vary across the province and over time, and are instrumental in bird conservation planning.
You can help! Now is the perfect time to practise your birding-by-ear skills, or even bird ID on your own “home patch”, in preparation for the start of the Atlas next year. Stay tuned to the Birds Canada monthly enews and Featured News blog for more information. In the meantime, you can learn more about the last Ontario Atlas at birdsontario.org, and can read more about the upcoming Atlas in the Ontario Field Ornithologists’ February newsletter.
The third Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas project is led by Birds Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service – Ontario Region, Ontario Field Ornithologists, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and Ontario Nature.