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Atlasing vs. eBirding: When to submit checklists to the Atlas portal

By Ashley Peele

Now that the breeding season is in full swing and the atlas project is off and running, I wanted to write a quick article to highlight when and where to submit observations to the Atlas eBird portal vs. the traditional eBird portal.  Now that we have two state-based eBird portals this isn’t always clear, so let me try to make it so.  Consider this…

This question is really what it all comes down to.  If you have one or more breeding codes of Possible (e.g. singing male) or higher on your checklist, then enter it into the Atlas eBird portal.  If you don’t, then use the eBird portal.  However, if your birding activities are specifically intended to be Atlas effort, then any of your checklists can be submitted to the Atlas portal.

Remember that even though the Virginia eBird portal will accept breeding codes as part of its global system, Atlas observations should not be entered there.  They won’t be related to the Atlas’s unique block system or integrated into our Virginia-specific atlas results.  This means, all that great data you collected will be lost to this project.

Can I only enter data for my atlas block?  No!  In fact, you may find that your fellow birders are grateful for checklists you contribute in other atlas blocks.  No good breeding data should be thrown away, so remember to enter ALL breeding observations into the Atlas eBird portal, regardless of what block you are in.

How do I know if I have a breeding code?  Check out the quick list of breeding codes on our website.  Some codes are obvious, e.g. birds on nests, carrying food, or fledglings.  Others may be less clear, such as a bird singing in suitable habitat.  If it is a migratory species, should I enter it?  Consult the Breeding Timeline Charts to see if that species breeds in your area.  This is becoming much simpler right about now (mid- to late May), because many of our migratory species are done passing through.  Most of the species (with the exception of a few of the later migrants like Blackpoll Warblers) are potential breeders.  So from here on out, you should be using the atlas portal much more often than not until things slow down in August.

How do I know which portal my checklist is in?  Check out the upper left corner of your screen when viewing or entering a checklist.  The VA Atlas portal will look like this:

While other portals will look like this:

Oops, I submitted some checklists to traditional Virginia eBird portal when I should have been using the Atlas eBird portal, now what do I do?  You can fix it! Here’s how.

Step 1:  Find the checklist(s).  Starting from the Virginia eBird portal, go to the “My eBird” tab and click “Manage My Checklists” on the right side.

Step 2:  Click “View or edit” to pull up the checklist you want to change.

Step 3:  Choose “Change Portal” on the lower right hand side, and change it to “Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas”. Hit the green “Change Portal” button for it to take effect.

Also!  Don’t forget that you can now enter checklists into the Atlas eBird portal from your phone app!  All breeding codes can now be entered through the app, so a complete Atlas checklist can be entered without having to use your computer at all!

[This tutorial has been modified with permission from those created by WI Coordinator Nicholas Anich for the WBBAII and we thank him and our sister Atlas for generously sharing these resources with the VABBA2!]

  • May 18, 2016