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Breeding Bird Atlas

The Nevada Breeding Bird Atlas project was the first comprehensive, statewide inventory of Nevada’s breeding birds. The project began in 1997 and field work was completed in 2000. The project involved surveys of 769 atlas blocks and nearly 10,000 incidental records. It was the first and largest citizen-scientist effort in the state at that time, with over 400 atlas surveyors spending more than 14,000 hours and traveling over 150,000 miles to survey sites throughout Nevada.

The 769 original atlas blocks were selected in a random fashion throughout 16 major habitat types represented in Nevada. In addition, 78 new atlas blocks were visited in an effort to generate a predictive model that allowed us to estimate the probability of each species’ occurrence throughout the state, including areas that were not sampled during the original atlas surveys.

A total of 243 species were confirmed as, or strongly suspected to be, breeders in Nevada during the atlas project. New species confirmed as nesting in Nevada included the Gilded Flicker and the Rufous-crowned Sparrow. For some species, for example Black-billed Magpie, Gray Vireo, and Wilson’s Warbler, the breeding distributions were significantly different than previously assumed. Several species eluded confirmation for breeding, such as Sharp-tailed Grouse, Spotted Owl, Pileated Woodpecker, and Hermit Warbler, all of which are suspected to be at least occasional breeders in the state, and some of which have been confirmed since the atlas field work was concluded. Overall, the atlas paints a picture of a very dynamic bird community, with some species apparently declining or contracting their breeding range in the state but others, such as Eurasian Collard-Dove, White-winged Dove, Anna’s Hummingbird, and Great-tailed Grackle, actively expanding their range and apparently increasing in numbers. These findings suggest that continued monitoring and a continuation of the atlas effort are critical for understanding the changes occurring in the Nevada landscapes and the bird communities that inhabit them (see also below: Future of the Nevada Atlas Project).

More than 25 partners representing public agencies, private groups, and corporations provided critical financial and in-kind support for the atlas project. Since 2000, GBBO has worked with the original atlas leaders Ted Floyd, Graham Chisholm, Chris Elphick, Kevin Mack, and Bob Elston to vet over 30,000 records in the atlas data base and prepare a final manuscript for publication by the University of Nevada Press.

The book Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Nevada presents maps with all breeding records and maps with the predicted distributions of all 243 species that were confirmed as breeders in Nevada during the atlas project. The book, which features cover art by David A. Sibley and book illustrations by Ray Nelson, will be published in April 2007 by the University of Nevada Press. For more details on the book, please see http://www.nvbooks.nevada.edu/books.asp?ID=2453.

Future of the Nevada Atlas Project

GBBO intends to keep the atlas data base open for continual amendment with new data. After final clean-up work, we will post the data base, the locations of atlas blocks, and information on how to submit additional atlas records on our website. This work on the data base will likely be completed in June 2007. We will also make available hardcopies of atlas block field cards and casual observation cards, which can be requested from GBBO starting in May 2007.

We encourage all atlas supporters to continue to collect atlas data in their favorite atlas block and report casual breeding records, especially for species for which additional records would change our view of their distribution.

For example, one of the items we discovered is that during the atlas project, many of the very early breeders (especially in the Mojave Desert) and very late breeders may not have been captured during the 1997-2000 atlas field seasons. Therefore, any confirmed breeding records outside the May-June period are of particular interest to amending the data base.

This volunteer effort to amend the atlas data base will also allow us to judge when it will be time to do another comprehensive atlas project that involves revisiting all atlas blocks to determine changes in breeding distributions of Nevada’s birds. Help celebrate Nevada’s bird diversity with your participation!

Here are the species for which we would particularly like additional data (i.e., confirmed, probable, and possible breeding evidence, especially records from beyond the currently recognized range):

Species not confirmed as breeders in Nevada during the Atlas Project:

Bufflehead
Hooded Merganser
Sharp-tailed Grouse
White-tailed Kite
Common Black-Hawk
Zone-tailed Hawk
Black Rail
Clapper Rail
Heerman’s Gull
Eurasian Collard-Dove
Elf Owl
Barred Owl
Black Swift
Vaux’s Swift
Rufous Hummingbird
Acorn Woodpecker
Gila Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Gray Catbird
Hermit Warbler
Painted Redstart
Hepatic Tanager
Grasshopper Sparrow
Common Grackle
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch

Species for which we would like to know about additional breeding sites in Nevada:

Waterfowl:

Trumpeter Swan
Wood Duck
American Wigeon
Blue-winged Teal
Canvasback
Redhead
Ring-necked Duck
Lesser Scaup
Common Merganser

Upland Gamebirds:

Gray Partridge
Ring-necked Pheasant
Ruffed Grouse
Greater Sage-Grouse
Sooty/Dusky Grouse (formerly Blue Grouse)
Wild Turkey
Mountain Quail

Waterbirds and Waders:

Western Grebe
Clark’s Grebe
American White Pelican
Least Bittern
All egrets
Green Heron
White-faced Ibis

Diurnal Birds of Prey:

Osprey
Bald Eagle
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk
Northern Goshawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk
Peregrine Falcon

Rails and Cranes:

Sora
Common Moorhen
Sandhill Crane

Shorebirds, Gulls, and Terns:

Snowy Plover
Black-necked Stilt
American Avocet
Willet
Spotted Sandpiper
Long-billed Curlew
Wilson’s Snipe
Franklin’s Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Caspian Tern
Forster’s Tern
Black Tern

Doves and Pigeons:

White-winged Dove
Inca Dove

Cuckoos and Roadrunners:

Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Greater Roadrunner

Owls and Goatsuckers:

Barred Owl
Barn Owl
Flammulated Owl
Western Screech-Owl
Northern Pygmy-Owl
Burrowing Owl
Short-eared Owl
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Lesser Nighthawk
Whip-poor-will

Swifts and Hummingbirds:

White-throated Swift
Black-chinned Hummingbird
Anna’s Hummingbird
Costa’s Hummingbird
Calliope Hummingbird
Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Kingfishers, Woodpeckers, and Sapsuckers:

Belted Kingfisher
Lewis’s Woodpecker
Williamson’s Sapsucker
Red-breasted Sapsucker
Ladder-backed Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
American Three-toed Woodpecker
Gilded Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker

Flycatchers, Kingbirds, and Phoebes:

Olive-sided Flycatcher
Western Wood-Pewee
Willow Flycatchers
Hammond’s Flycatcher
Black Phoebe
Vermilion Flycatcher
Brown-crested Flycatcher
Cassin’s Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird

Vireos:

Bell’s Vireo
Gray Vireo
Plumbeous Vireo
Cassin’s Vireo

Corvids:

Steller’s Jay
Pinyon Jay
Black-billed Magpie

Swallows:

Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Mojave?)
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow (Mojave?)

Chickadees:

Black-capped Chickadee

Nuthatches and Creepers: (especially in central Nevada)

Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Pygmy Nuthatch
Brown Creeper

Wrens and Dippers:

Cactus Wren
Canyon Wren
Bewick’s Wren
Winter Wren
American Dipper

Kinglets:

Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (especially in western Nevada)

Bluebirds, Mockingbirds, Thrushes, and Thrashers:

Western Bluebird
Swainson’s Thrush
Northern Mockingbird
Bendire’s Thrasher
Crissal Thrasher
Le Conte’s Thrasher

Pipits and Waxwings:

American Pipit
Cedar Waxwing
Phainopepla

Warblers:

Orange-crowned Warbler
Virginia’s Warbler
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Grace’s Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Wilson’s Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat

Tanagers:

Summer Tanager

Sparrows:

Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Brewer’s Sparrow (Mojave?)
Black-chinned Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow (south-central Nevada?)
Lincoln’s Sparrow

Grosbeaks, Buntings, and Bobolinks:

Black-headed Grosbeak (lowland riparian areas?)
Blue Grosbeak (Great Basin?)
Indigo Bunting
Bobolink

Blackbirds and Grackles:

Tricolored Blackbird (anywhere in western Nevada)
Yellow-headed Blackbird (Mojave)
Great-tailed Grackle (Great Basin)

Orioles:

Hooded Oriole (Great Basin)
Scott’s Oriole (Great Basin)

Finches, Crossbills, Goldfinches, and Grosbeaks:

Black Rosy-Finch
Red Crossbill
Pine Siskin
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch (western Nevada?)
Evening Grosbeak

 

 

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