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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : Division of Fish & Wildlife : Breeding Bird Atlas : Breeding Atlas History

 
Delaware Breeding Bird Atlas history

 

From 1983 through 1987, over 100 volunteers participated in compiling data for Delaware’s first breeding bird atlas, the state's

largest and most comprehensive ornithological project. Led by Rick West, they surveyed and compiled 222 atlas blocks throughout the state, providing thorough distribution data about our breeding birds.

Photo by Larry Graff

How is the Eastern Bluebird's comeback faring in Delaware? The Breeding Bird Atlas can help determine it.

This effort, incorporated in The Birds of Delaware (Hess, G. K., R. L. West, M. V. Barnhill III, and L. M. Fleming. University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, Pa. 635.pp), summarizes the distribution of the breeding birds during those years.

 

Maps of all breeding species are provided for each breeding species along with other important information such as breeding safe dates, nesting dates, and arrival and departure estimates.To learn more about Delaware’s first Breeding Bird Atlas, you can visit the Breeding Bird Atlas Explorer, hosted by the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.

 

Since being published, the first atlas has become an important resource, providing much of the distribution data about Delaware’s breeding avifauna.  It is often used by researchers, scientists, government officials, and birders alike.  Most importantly, the first Delaware breeding bird atlas established the baseline data we will use to compare and examine changes in the distributions of our breeding species upon completion of the current atlas project. 

 

Photo by Larry Graff

The Black-Crowned Night Heron is a spectacular sight whether at dusk or any time of day in Delaware.

Delaware’s 2nd Breeding Bird Atlas

 

In late 2006, a diverse group of interested parties assembled to begin discussing Delaware’s second atlas effort. A general committee was formed, led by representatives of the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, the DelMarVa Ornithological Society, the Delaware Nature Society, the Delaware Museum of Natural History, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the US Geological Survey, and the University of Delaware. This group formed two subcommittees to develop and design the technical and logistical components of our current atlas project. Today, supported by these agencies and organizations, including additional supporters such as the Delaware Audubon Society, the second Delaware Breeding Bird Atlas commences a five-year project to capture data about bird species that occupy and nest in the state.

 

Over the past 20 years, much has changed in Delaware and the region. Development is occurring throughout the state creating new habitats, shrinking birding habitat and changing others. New wetlands are being created and managed. Land management practices have changed. In addition, the impact of climate change has yet to be fully understood. Data collected in the second Delaware Breeding Bird Atlas will provide us with the means to see what and where changes have occurred after two decades. We also will capitalize on a golden opportunity to collect data that will be very important to future evaluations of Delaware’s breeding bird fauna.

 

Today, as it was 20 years ago, dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers will again head out “into the field” in support of science and Delaware’s wild bird diversity!

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