What is an Atlas
Mapping birds is quickly becoming a world-wide phenomenon. It is fun to participate of course, but the results are an invaluable foundation of information for conserving birds and their ecosystems. Not long ago, atlases were books of maps but more recently atlases have on-line versions that are interactive. The BC Breeding Bird Atlas will be on-line and we hope to have a book too. To learn more about Canadian Bird Atlases click here.
Search, count and record
The BC Breeding Bird Atlas is a seven year project to determine the distribution and relative abundance of birds across British Columbia. It is the first time that a project of this scale has been undertaken in the province. The results will form a foundation for conservation policy and legislation and to ask important questions about how climate change affects on our environment, species at risk, environmental assessment and how to keep common birds common.
Do a world of good for birds in some of the world's most beautiful landscapes
The BC Breeding Bird Atlas Project is a big task to undertake in such a large province with a small number of residents and even fewer birdwatchers. But the project offers opportunities for adventure in some of the most stunning landscapes in the world which we hope will draw outside help. New discoveries will be made because many areas of the province have never before been visited by birders. Contact us to learn of opportunities.
The Atlas project is fun, informative, healthy, and simple to do. Over the next 5 years, we will be looking for volunteers to visit 10 km2 squares across the province where you will record birds. There are three levels of participation. You choose an atlas square that you want to visit and then:
1. Tell us where you saw breeding birds. This is as simple as recording where you saw a bird at a nest, feeding its young or where you heard it singing.
2. Tell us how many birds you saw. Here you will join a team of experienced birders who follow a predetermined route to record all birds seen or heard first thing in the morning.
3. Tell us about birds that are rare or nest in colonies. We provide a list of species in your area that are of high conservation concern because they are rare or nest in colonies. You provide us with details such as how many birds you saw, where they nested, and how many young were present.
The project has a Coordination Office supporting a network of volunteer Regional Coordinators who will oversee atlassing in their regions. You need to be able to identify birds correctly but you do not need to be expert - all records are welcome. We encourage all data to be entered on-line and the results will appear in real-time on this web site.
Early written descriptions of bird distributions in the entire British Columbia began nearly a century ago with a review by Brooks and Swarth (1925) of the bird fauna. James A Munro and Ian McTaggart Cowan updated the review in 1947. Our understanding took a leap forward with the publication of The Birds of British Columbia by R. Wayne Campbell and his co-authors, a comprehensive review of the distribution and biology of all birds prior to about 2000.
The British Columbia Breeding Bird Atlas follows an approach developed in the Ontario and Maritimes atlases. It relies on systematic visits to collect data from much of the province. Bird Studies Canada spearheaded the atlas projects as part of its role to conserve Canada's birds. In 2005, Bird Studies Canada began discussions with naturalists, the federal and provincial governments and some industries in British Columbia. The concept was keenly supported and in 2007, the project was officially launched.