Volunteers needed to count Pennsylvania’s birds for atlas – Outdoor News

Harrisburg — Those birds you see in the backyard, around camp, while hiking or otherwise outside? They’re more important than you think.

Reporting your observations of them is, too.

The Game Commission, together with Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, is conducting the third Pennsylvania Bird Atlas in state history. Between now and February 2029, it will document what birds live in Pennsylvania, where and in what numbers.

“The atlas will provide a snapshot of the population status and distribution of birds in the commonwealth,” said Game Commission Ornithologist Sean Murphy.

“No other bird surveys are as comprehensive, and for that reason, the results are critical to the establishment of conservation priorities for Pennsylvania birds.”


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But getting those results takes people. Lots and lots of them in lots and lots of places.

So, the Game Commission and Hawk Mountain are asking volunteers to look for birds, note those they see and report those details at eBird.

Step one to getting started is visiting the site and creating an account. Then, volunteers can access all the necessary information and tools to participate, including a volunteer handbook and other printable handouts, and track what others are seeing in real time (click the “explore” tab).

There’s no particular level of expertise needed.

The atlas has a full-time coordinator, Amber Wiewel of Hawk Mountain. There are paid bird counters, as well.

But most atlas data come from volunteers ranging from hard-core birders to more casual lovers of wildlife. Without them – all of them – no atlas can succeed, said Stefan Karkuff, the Game Commission’s Avian Recovery Biologist.

“The results of this atlas are only useful if the data is robust, meaning the more checklists the better,” he said.

“So it’s really an all-hands-on-deck kind of situation. We need contributors from all corners of the state, especially people who live in the more remote parts where there are fewer birders. Their data is valuable because it helps fill in holes on the map where birds would otherwise go unreported.”

The state’s Northern Tier is one such place, Murphy said. With its big chunks of public land, portions of it sometimes get comparatively less attention than urban and suburban areas. The interior portions of state game lands in particular can be hard to access and so sometimes are a challenge to survey.

But anyone anywhere can participate. That’s the power of the atlas, Murphy said. Every observation recorded helps lay the groundwork for bird conservation now and in the future.

Source: https://www.outdoornews.com/2024/06/28/volunteers-needed-to-count-pennsylvanias-birds-for-atlas/