NJ Breeding Bird Atlas

The Birds of New Jersey was published in 1999 and is available at all of New Jersey Audubon Society's staffed nature centers. The information on both common and rare species gives us baseline data for tracking bird population trends in the state. New Jersey hosts 210 species of breeding birds, 30 species of which are rare, threatened, or endangered. This work is increasingly used to protect high-priority parcels of land.

We had nearly 600 volunteers combing the state for four years (1994-1997) mapping the ranges of birds breeding in the Garden State. For those of you new to the idea of Atlas projects, we'll provide a bit of background. Birders in Great Britain and Ireland were the first to formulate methods and complete an Atlas to their breeding birds. The methods involve dividing an area (state, province, country) into uniform "blocks." The blocks are thoroughly surveyed, and observers note the breeding status of all birds in the area. The data is compiled, and the breeding ranges of all species are mapped. The first Atlas conducted in a given area provides biologists and conservationists with baseline data on the distribution of birds, and on the relative abundance of species. When the process is repeated years later (as was recently done in Great Britain and Ireland) other significant aspects of bird populations can be evaluated. Species' ranges increase or decrease, and new breeding species appear. This helps to create some of the most thorough and important data sets for conservationists.

Many U. S. states have completed, or are in the process of completing, their first Atlases. During a period of rapidly diminishing, large-scale, federally funded projects, the Atlas projects stand nearly alone in their scale and relative low cost. In New Jersey, we had about 800 blocks, each about 10 square miles. We generated over 88,000 records on 210 species of breeding birds. To date we have used the data to help direct conservation efforts, and preserve habitat in New Jersey. The censusers have helped to create the largest database on the distribution of New Jersey's Threatened and Endangered birds. This data is also being transferred into the hands of land-use regulators so they can use it to preserve habitat.

If you are interested in learning more about the project, or the publication of The Birds of New Jersey, you can direct your E-mail response to Cape May Bird Observatory at: cmbo2@njaudubon.org. If you wish to mail it to us we are at: NJ Breeding Bird Atlas, Cape May Bird Observatory Center for Research and Education, 600 Rt. 47 North, Cape May Courthouse, NJ 08210.

Thanks for your help!