New York State
Ornithological Association

For the birders and birds of the Empire State

NYSOA Publications Last Updated 11/21/03

NYS Breeding Bird Atlas

New York State's First Breeding Bird Atlas
1980 - 1985

For 6 years thousands of birders covered New York searching for breeding birds.  The result of their efforts The Atlas of Breeding Birds of New York State,  was published in 1988.  The project was a cooperative effort of three organizations -- New York State Ornithological Association, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

1980 Atlas Book (25116 bytes)

Maps are the main feature of a breeding bird atlas publication.  A map for each bird shows where Atlasers found evidence of breeding.  Blocks with confirmed breeding are represented by a black square.  Probable breeding is shown with an cross in a square and possible with a slash in a square.  Accompanying each map is a discussion of the bird's breeding status, habits and habitats.  Each species account includes a pen-and-ink drawing depicting an aspect of its breeding activity. 

The publication comes with transparent pages that show various features like river systems, elevation, forest types, etc.  Used with the species maps, they show how the breeding distribution relates to elevation, forest type, or mean temperature.

In addition to a book, the results of the first Atlas are contained in a database, kept by the NYS DEC.  Look up the results for a specific Atlas block.  New York birders are now repeating the project (Atlas 2000) to learn how the breeding bird distribution has changed over 20 years.

This is the first atlas map for the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker.  It shows sapsuckers concentrated in the Adirondacks and Catskills and absent from the southeastern part of the state.  In Dutchess County, sapsuckers were not recorded for the first Atlas.   Recently we have found sapsuckers nesting in eastern Dutchess.  So we know about one difference we'll see for Atlas 2000.  Will sapsuckers show expansion in other parts of the state? 

AtlasMapYBSA.gif (25118 bytes)

Here is the map for Hooded Warbler, a bird with a quite different distribution than the sapsucker.  Again for Dutchess County, Hooded Warblers were not found during the first Atlas.  Since then, they have expanded into the county.  We have already confirmed breeding of Hooded Warbler in Dutchess for Atlas 2000.  Is this part of a general range expansion, or just limited to the southeastern New York?  Atlas 2000 will tell.

AtlasMapHOA.gif (13623 bytes)

The Atlas of Breeding Birds of New York State, edited by Robert F. Andrle and Janet Carroll, was published by Cornell University Press in 1988.  It is available from Cornell University Press.


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