13 February 2017 (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) – This summer, birdwatchers across Saskatchewan will embark on the largest citizen-science project ever attempted in the province. Made possible by dedicated volunteers, the Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas aims to document breeding birds across Saskatchewan. This ambitious bird conservation effort is being led by a partnership between Birds Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Nature Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, and the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation.
Sharp-tailed Grouse Photo: David Messmer
“People are generally interested in and curious about birds. As a group, birds offer viewing opportunities that are unparalleled by other types of wildlife. When you harness this interest in birds within an organized framework, there is real potential to gather important information that helps us to learn about the state of our natural environment,” says Dr. Kiel Drake, Saskatchewan Program Manager for Birds Canada.
The Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas is the most recent in a sequence of provincial or regional atlases in Canada. Atlases are scientifically designed five-year surveys aimed at recording all breeding bird species across an entire region. Because they repeat at 20-year intervals, atlases play a vital role in understanding large-scale changes over time. These repetitions allow researchers to measure changes in bird distribution and abundance, which may indicate significant changes in land use, habitat, climate, or other natural and man-made forces. Results from atlases are extremely valuable for decision-makers. Atlases have played major roles in everything from conservation planning and environmental assessments, to education and ecotourism.
Volunteerism is at the heart of breeding bird atlases. “We anticipate that more than 1000 volunteers will participate in the project between 2017 and 2021,” says Dr. Drake. Participants spend time throughout the summer exploring the outdoors, and recording their observations. “Atlases are great for getting people into areas they might not otherwise explore. You really get to know a place and the birds that call it home,” remarks Saskatchewan Atlas Coordinator LeeAnn Latremouille. The website contains all the information needed to participate, including contact information for Regional Coordinators. Volunteer Regional Coordinators are the backbone of the atlas, providing invaluable guidance and support for participants. While the final product will not appear until 2023, the interactive website will allow people to track progress from year to year.
The Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas is led by Birds Canada, Canada’s leading national charitable organization dedicated to bird science and conservation, in partnership with federal and provincial governments, local conservation organizations, and industry sponsors. Online registration via the atlas website is now open, and materials are being prepared for spring workshops ahead of the upcoming breeding season.
Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas Coordinator
Saskatchewan Program Manager
Office Tel.: 306-249-2894