• Atlas progress update: nearly 2000 atlasers
  • Atlas skills: How to atlas for grassland birds
  • May challenge: Code grassland birds to win an Atlas t-shirt
  • Species spotlight: Upland Sandpiper
  • Special survey: Nightjars!
  • Events: May Town Hall, nightjar training, talks and walks
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May 2021 Update
New York's resident breeders are getting well underway just as many of our migrants are arriving and setting up shop. This month we focus on two threatened and declining groups, grassland birds and nightjars. Read the articles below to learn how best to document breeding for these cryptic birds.

1,970 atlasers have now contributed to the NY BBA III, confirming 214 species breeding across 4,467 atlas blocks. This month we expect to pass 200,000 checklists and 2,000 atlasers!

The species confirmed in the most new blocks in April were Canada Goose (100 new blocks!), European Starling (59), American Robin (45), Black-capped Chickadee (42), and Red-tailed Hawk (42).

We are currently seeking Regional Coordinators. If you are interested, please tell us a little about yourself.

Atlas Skill: Atlasing in Grasslands

Grassland birds need our help. Learn how to have fun doing it! Grasshopper Sparrow with a bill full of food © Garrett Lau/Macaulay Library.
Grasslands make up a small part of New York’s landscape, but hold a number of species specific to the habitat—including several that are rare and of conservation concern. This guide is designed to help you find grassland birds, providing crucial information for land management and conservation. Learn which species already have young (hint: see photo below), which ones you are likely to hear at night, and about nomadic, irruptive species (no, not finches!). Go to the guide.
May Challenge: Grassland Birds
Fledgling Horned Lark from Apr 25, 2021 © Benjamin Hack/Macaulay Library.
In May, we challenge you to explore grasslands, an under-surveyed habitat with high conservation value. Every checklist you submit with a breeding code for grassland birds gives you a chance to win this month’s prize—an Atlas t-shirt! Winners will be randomly selected from all eligible checklists. List of eligible species

Congratulations to Suzanne Kavic of Westchester for winning the March challenge on early nesting species!
Species Spotlight: Upland Sandpiper
Learn how to witness the elaborate courtship flights of Upland Sandpipers. Photo © Brian Sullivan/Macaulay Library.
The wolf whistle of Upland Sandpipers is a sign of a healthy grassland. Once you hear them singing, it usually doesn’t take long to find the vocalizing bird perched on a fence post or other high perch. Watch a little longer, and you may see them do their elaborate flight display, which is not to be missed, and this is the month to see them! Learn more
Nightjar Surveys - Claim Your Route
Eastern Whip-poor-will at Chaumont Barrens. Photo © Andrew Marden/Macaulay Library.
NY is home to three species of nightjars–the Common Nighthawk, Eastern Whip-poor-will, and Chuck-will’s-widow–and all of them are experiencing steep population declines. In order to better conserve these species, we are seeking information on remaining populations. If you can devote two evenings this summer to nighttime surveys, please consider doing a nightjar survey. You might be surprised by how many birds (and other animals) vocalize at night. Join the nightjar training session May 11th to learn more! Get details about participating
Upcoming Events
Breeding season is upon us and a lot is happening! Check out the Atlas Events Calendar for details on how to participate in upcoming Atlas events, from chats and trainings to in-person walks!
  • May 8 Global Big Day
  • May 10 @ 7 pm, Atlas Town Hall
  • May 11 @ 7 pm, Nightjar Survey Training
  • May 18 @ 7 pm, Birdchat, Anne Swaim
  • May 19 Nightjar Survey window starts
  • May 22 early morning Atlas walk, Tom Wheeler
Big Atlas Weekend—June 25-27
Join us for a weekend full of atlasing with fun challenges, rewards, and atlasing opportunities. Help us meet the atlas goal of covering all priority blocks while having fun atlasing in the prime breeding season! We've even convinced the Maryland-DC Breeding Bird Atlas, Maine Bird Atlas, and North Carolina Bird Atlas to join the fun and hope to turn this into an annual event highlighting breeding birds.
3 Ways to Support the Atlas!
  • Visit our online store to purchase atlas-themed items. A percentage of the proceeds go to the Atlas. Look official while supporting the atlas!
  • Sponsor a Species of your choosing and have your name featured in the final Atlas product! Together we've raised $32,400!
  • Donate directly to the atlas. Donations go toward supporting outreach events and data collection all in the name of conservation.
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