Big Atlas Weekend – The results are in!

ArrayAugust 3, 2021 at 2:03 pm

By Doug Hitchcox

Yellow Warbler Setophaga petechia © Doug Hitchcox

Big Atlas Weekend 2021 was a success! All four participating Atlas projects had great turnout the weekend of June 25-27. By now, many atlasers have figured out that the best atlasing period is late June through early July, which is why we’ve started this annual mid-summer competition. It was a great time to be out with lots of babies hatching and needing to be fed.

Despite the hot, muggy weather here in ME, 206 atlasers participated! Of the 229 species that have been confirmed breeding in the state to date, 199 of them were documented over the weekend, including 24 coded species seen in ME and nowhere else.

Achievements in ME

Maine atlasers are absolutely amazing! This is the third Atlas in the state, and a lot of experienced atlasers are putting their skills to work while many others are just getting hooked. Here are some of the achievements from the first Big Atlas Weekend.

  • 206 atlasers participated, including 53 first timers!
  • 439 blocks were visited
  • 993 hours atlased (33 nocturnal)
  • 1221 checklists submitted
  • 199 species coded
  • Some species were documented in ME but not in NY, MD, or NC:
    • Common Goldeneye
    • Leach’s Storm-Petrel
    • Ring-necked Duck
    • Tennessee Warbler
    • Wilson’s Warbler
    • Common Murre
    • Glossy Ibis
    • Nelson’s Sparrow
    • Razorbill
    • Roseate Tern
    • Arctic Tern
    • Bay-breasted Warbler
    • Great Cormorant
    • Atlantic Puffin
    • Northern Goshawk
    • Spruce Grouse
    • Cape May Warbler
    • Black Guillemot
    • Palm Warbler
    • Common Eider

Participation by Atlas Project

When we look at all the states combined, we had a bevy of 1001 atlasers out in all four participating areas who spent a total of 3276 hours making 6169 confirmations! These are impressive numbers considering this was the first ever Big Atlas Weekend!

Everyone who participated received a free introductory bird identification course from the Bird Academy at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Despite Maine having lower counts in many categories, our atlasers were incredibly efficient, and when we compared effort across states and adjusted for the number of atlasers and the geographic size of each state, Maine came out the overall winner.

Big Atlas Weekend statistics by Atlas project.

ME Challenge Winners

The winners of the statewide challenges received a free course of their choosing from the Bird Academy. Winners were randomly selected from all eligible checklists in each category. Congratulations to these NY winners!

  • Complete Atlas checklist for the first time ever – Nancy MacDonald
  • Complete Atlas checklist with at least one coded species – Magill Weber
  • Complete checklist with >=1 confirmed species in a priority block – Jennifer Popenhagan
  • Complete checklist with nocturnal effort from a priority block – John Wyatt
  • Complete checklist with at least one confirmed grassland species – Linda Powell
  • Complete checklist of 5+ minutes for a priority block with <20 hours of diurnal effort – Connor Marland
  • Complete checklist of 5+ minutes for a priority block with no visits – Ashlee Duff

Next Year

The Big Atlas Weekend coordinators had a great time organizing this year’s event, so much so, that we’ve already started discussing the details for 2022. We hope to expand to other Atlas projects since this year was such a success.

Mainers will need to defend our title in our final year of atlasing!


If you missed the kickoff, training session, or awards night watch the recordings on the NY BBA YouTube channel.