This is the first of what I hope will be monthly updates on the progress of the Breeding Bird Atlas in Muskoka Region. Last December I accepted the position of coordinator for this region and I am looking forward to working with all the atlasers to make this project a success. One of our goals in this first year is to assign all the 10 X 10 km squares in the region to atlasers who will take responsibility for making sure the required 20 hours of data collection is completed. To date 17 of the 50 squares have been assigned but we expect to increase this number in the next few months as publicity for the atlas gets rolling.
Data collection will start with the 2001 breeding season and continue for 5 years. Basically all you have to do is visit the different habitats in your square and record any evidence of breeding observed. You will look for singing males, pairs, nest building etc. and record your observations on a data card. The regional coordinator will send everyone an atlas manual, maps and data cards. More information can be found on the Atlas Website and in the Winter 2000 issue of Seasons Magazine.
We will need lots of volunteers from both local and seasonal residents to get the job done. On the previous page you will find links to the region map and a list of squares already assigned. If you think you could do one or more squares please pick any of the unassigned squares and contact me as soon as possible. Even if you can't do a whole square you can still make a valuable contribution by submitting casual observations from wherever you are in Muskoka. Contact me for an atlasing manual and supply of data cards.
So when can we start atlasing? You can start now! The breeding season for most species doesn't start until June but a few species are already setting up territories and soon will be nest building. Some early Muskoka nesters are Gray Jay, Great Horned Owl, Barred Owl, Common Raven, and both species of Crossbills. Crossbills are now doing their flight songs in some areas which would indicate possible breeding. Make a note of any breeding evidence you observe and enter it on a card later and start preparing for some serious atlasing in June and July.