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Birdwatchers of all experience levels invited to help with state’s first bird atlas

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — North Carolina is launching it’s first bird atlas and inviting birdwatchers of all experience levels to participate.

Conserving Carolina, a nonprofit conservation organization working to preserve water and land resources in Western North Carolina, is one of three regional coordinators for the NC Bird Atlas, which will help determine how best to protect and restore habitat for birds.

The NC Bird Atlas is a five-year statewide community science project that relies on volunteers to map the distribution and abundance of birds from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Outer Banks.

Everyone can participate in the Atlas. “Atlasing” is similar to birdwatching, except participants are asked to take the time to watch individual birds closely and make note of their behaviors through the year. For example, an observer watching a Carolina Wren might take note of whether the bird is singing or perhaps gathering twigs and leaves in its beak to build a nest.

Bird atlases are large-scale, standardized surveys that have taken place in states across the country since the 1970s. The Bird Atlas will divide the state into 937 blocks, each roughly 10 square miles. Working with regional coordinators, volunteer observers will fan out across each block over the course of the year, recording the birds and bird behaviors they see.

Volunteers are asked to sign up for a priority block and spend at least 20 hours surveying during the breeding season and 10 hours during the wintering season, with two nocturnal visits during each season. While surveying the block, all birds observed and heard should be recorded. Trips should be limited to one-mile or less and one hour or less. All data will be submitted through eBird, an online database of crowd-sourced bird observations.

Organizers are encouraging bird enthusiasts of all experience levels to get involved by visiting and signing up for updates.

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