VABBA2 Guidance for 2019

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Peele, Ashley

Mar 8, 2019, 12:15:21 PM3/8/19
to, VABBA2 Listserv

Hi Folks,


Despite the snowy weather rolling in from the west, spring is close upon us and the birds are reminding us that breeding season approaches!  Just this week reports are rolling in of nest-building American Crows and Barn Owls with eggs laid in their favorite silos.  While it is still too early to log breeding evidence for most species, the migrants will soon begin arriving and then it is just a short few weeks until the mid-May start of peak Atlas season.


This summer will be our fourth breeding season for this project, meaning we’ll only have one more year left to go!  It is exciting to review what we have accomplished over the last three years (see our 2018 Summary for more details).  However, we want to now turn our attention to strategies for tackling the remaining priority block survey needs this field season.


To get us started, we want to emphasize that volunteers have a lot of options in terms of how they volunteer.  Our single greatest priority for the final two years of the VABBA2 is increasing priority block coverage in rural parts of VA and completing as many of those priority blocks as possible.  To help us accomplish this, volunteers can adopt a couple of different strategies:


  1. Traditional Atlas Volunteering – continue working on completing your survey work of local or regional priority blocks that you have signed up for (or just been tackling).  Many blocks need only a single night visit or one good day of summer observations to be completed.  Many blocks are assigned to volunteers, but still need a lot of work.  If you’re signed up for a block, then please be sure to try to finish it up this field season.  If you’re not assigned to a block, but just prefer this method, then we say ‘carry on(!)’ and thanks for your continued commitment to the project.  


  1. Blockbusting – Last year, a small number of volunteers began using this method, which involves a little more travel, a little more planning, but can be a lot of fun.  To help guide blockbusting efforts, we put together a number of new materials on the subject.  We suggest starting with this new article: Atlas Blockbusting Guide – 2019 and then moving on to new Atlas Blockbusting page for blockbusting maps.  If you have limited time for surveying and want to get the most bang for your buck, consider how you might be able to contribute data to the rural priority blocks identified in these materials.


It is important to note that both of these strategies are equally valuable to the project.  Doing a mix of both is just dandy.  At the end of the day, we appreciate the time and energy that all our volunteer put into surveying VA’s breeding birds. 


We also realize that anytime we add a new resource, like the new blockbusting target maps created for this field season, questions arise.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out to myself, your regional coordinator (Contacts), or post questions to our Facebook group at


Happy Birding!


Ashley Peele, PhD  

Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas Coordinator 

cid:1A12BF3C-513A-421E-89D7-92257821E7DB  |        


Conservation Management Institute, Virginia Tech

1900 Kraft Drive, Suite 105

Blacksburg, VA 24061

(540) 231-9182 office

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