Outdoors Latest

Big Atlas weekend is coming

House finch. File photo House finch. File photo

Birders around the state are encouraged to grab their binoculars, guidebooks, hiking boots and best birding friends for a weekend of non-stop “atlasting” from June 28-30. 

North Carolina, along with states from New York to Puerto Rico, are participating in the fourth annual Big Atlas Weekend for birders of all skill levels to connect with the Atlas and win prizes. 

The North Carolina Bird Atlas is a state-wide community science initiative to map breeding and overwintering birds in North Carolina so scientists can better understand resident birds and the habitats they need. This is the final two breeding seasons of the North Carolina Bird Atlas and volunteers are needed. Last summer, 171 North Carolina atlasers participated in the weekend and spent 582 hours identifying 173 species, recording 12,575 breeding behaviors, averaging 7.4 checklists per person with a total of 1,192 checklists.

The goal is to get birders to visit as many priority areas as possible to confirm what birds are breeding and where. There will be a virtual kick-off event from 6-8 p.m. on June 28, where participants will learn more about atlasing and the challenges for the weekend. Challenges and prize opportunities will span all skill levels from beginner to veteran atlasers. 

Participating is simple: start any time after Friday at 6p.m., stop at least one minute before midnight on Sunday, June 23, tag the North Carolina Bird Atlas when posting to Instagram and 
Facebook to inspire others.  

Here are this year’s challenges: 

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• Submit nocturnal checklists (between 20 minutes after sunset and 40 minutes before sunrise).

• Submit a newly coded or upgraded species in a priority block. 

• Submit atlas checklists in an incomplete block. Check the status of blocks here.  

Make sure to tag atlas-related photos on Facebook (@ncbirdatlas) and Instagram (@ncbirdatlas). The winners of each atlasing challenge will get a prize from Cornell’s Bird Academy. Eligible checklists must be complete and submitted to the North Carolina Bird Atlas portal in eBird between 6 p.m. June 28 and 11:59 p.m. June 30.  

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