2nd Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas

Getting Involved

'Bald Eagle pair' by Bob Schamerhorn
Who should volunteer?
Anyone who observes birds, even just those in your yard, can report data on breeding bird observations in Virginia. We encourage experienced birders to sign up as the principal atlaser (or volunteer surveyor) for one or more atlas blocks. Newer birders may consider teaming up with one or two more experienced birding friends to cover an atlas block together.  

When do I start?
Now!  The 2016 breeding season is already underway.  The official Atlas launch will be held at the Virginia Society of Ornithology (VSO) meeting in Roanoke on April 29th, but we encourage volunteers to get out in the field now.  The project will continue from 2016 through the 2020 breeding season.

How do I get started?

Quick Start Guide

1. First, check out the Atlas block map tool and review what priority blocks need to be surveyed in your region. 

This tool allows you to:
  • Zoom in and out of atlas regions to search for preferred atlas blocks
  • Submit a sign-up request form for an atlas block
  • Download a PDF file of the topographic or aerial map for any block
2. Next, review all the key materials, including the Handbook and Data Forms. 

Be sure that you are not only familiar, but comfortable with the survey protocols and use of the data forms prior to beginning atlas activities in the field.

3. Familiarize yourself with the VABBA2 eBird portal. 

If you are new to eBird, check out some of the how-to tutorials on our eBird page.  These will help you get acquainted with the eBird system of data entry.
  • For experienced eBirders, remember that you must use the custom VABBA2 eBird portal to enter your breeding bird atlas data.  Use your current username and your BBA records will show up on your regular eBird account as well.
4. Get out in the field! 

Once you’ve signed up, get to know your atlas block.  Note the block boundaries, roads, trails, land access, etc.  Consider whether you will need to request permission to access areas within your block (See Land Access protocols in the Atlas handbook).  This should be done prior to the day you will first attempt to survey.  

What other resources do I need?
  • The Atlas Handbook is the definitive guide for all Atlas protocols
  • Regional coordinators are there to provide guidance on block sign up or advice for monitoring your area
  • Tutorials will be posted regularly to the VABBA2 eBird page
  • Ask Atlas questions on the Atlas volunteer group page