August Atlasing Tips

ArrayAugust 6, 2020 at 2:42 pm

By Doug Hitchcox

Atlasing in August can be really tricky as early migrants are already on the move south, late nesters are just getting started, and even some species trying to sneak in an extra brood before the season ends. This post will highlight some of the important things to keep in mind while atlasing in August.

Willow FlycatcherEmpidonax traillii Doug Hitchcox

Safe Dates

We are moving out of the safe dates for most of our species. There are only 38 species that we are still within the safe dates for during the first week of August, and the majority of those will be out by August 15th. Remember, this is important because you should not use any Possible (S & H) or lower Probable (P, M, & S7) codes outside of the safe dates. All the others still supersede the safe dates, so keep coding the higher Probable and all Confirmed codes when appropriate! You can find the safe dates on page 20 of the Volunteer Handbook, or use the Safe Dates Graph Sorted by End Date as a quick reference. You can also try this web app by atlaser Christine Murray, to check a species safe date:

Caution with Fledglings versus Juveniles

One of the most common errors we see on checklists this late in the season is any young bird being coded as recently fledged. You should use extra caution with young birds now that they are large enough to be wandering, and especially moving off their natal grounds, which means they could be coded (incorrectly) in the wrong block. The important thing to remember is that FL Recently Fledged Young, should only be used with birds that are still dependent on their adults, or are still clearly developing. This is typically most obvious because they are weak flyers, still show certain feather groups (especially the tail) growing in, or may have downy plumage. You can find a more detailed article on this here: When Fledgling Become Juveniles

Double-check Your Portal

Since your August outings might include recording checklists with no breeding birds on it, make sure you are using the correct eBird portal. As long as your checklist has at least one breeding code on it, the entire list can be submitted to the Maine Bird Atlas portal. But if youve spent the morning counting migrant shorebirds, and dont observe any breeding codes, that list should be submitted to eBird or Maine eBird. You can always correct a list after submitting by following these steps: How to Change Portals of a Submitted List

Have fun!

There is still plenty of atlasing to be done! American Goldfinches and Cedar Waxwings are two of our latest nesting species and really just getting started. 2020 has been an exceptional year for both Black-billed and Yellow-billed cuckoos, and there was a chick found (and brought to Center for Wildlife) during the first week of August! Get out there and report your breeding species before the season closes.