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New York State Breeding Bird Atlas

Cover: The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State
Breeding Bird Atlas Book Cover

Second Breeding Bird Atlas Published!

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The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State, edited by Kevin J. McGowan and Kimberley Corwin, was released in December 2008.

Five years of fieldwork by more than 1,200 contributors provided the data for this latest addition to our understanding of New York's avifauna (birds). This substantial book reveals striking changes in the distributions of many of our breeding birds since New York's first Breeding Bird Atlas was published in 1988. Over half of our 253 species showed a significant change in their distribution, with 70 species showing increases and 58 species showing declines. A two-page species account was written for each of the 244 bird species, which features a color map that shows the current distribution of the bird in the state and a second map that shows the change in distribution since the first atlas. The book is beautifully illustrated with black-and-white species drawings and 25 color paintings that depict New York's wide diversity of habitats.

Thank you to all of the volunteers who contributed data to the project. Congratulations on your accomplishment.

Books can be ordered from Cornell University Press, from online retailers, or may be found in your local bookstore.

Stay tuned for Atlas III in 2020!

What is the Breeding Bird Atlas?

The Breeding Bird Atlas is a comprehensive, statewide survey designed to reveal the distribution of breeding birds in New York. This second Atlas project in New York was conducted from 2000-2005 and resulted in the new publication and the associated database. The 1988 publication, The Atlas of Breeding Birds in New York State, edited by Robert F. Andrle and Janet R. Carroll, resulted from the first Breeding Bird Atlas Project in New York, conducted from 1980-1985. The recently completed project used the same methodology as the first Atlas to document changes that occurred in the ensuing twenty years.

The New York State Ornithological Association and the Department of Environmental Conservation once again sponsored this project in cooperation with New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Cornell University, Cornell University Department of Natural Resources, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

How Was the Survey Conducted?

The state was divided into ten regions, based upon the "Kingbird" reporting regions for the New York State Ornithological Association. One or two Regional Coordinators were responsible for seeing that all of the blocks in their region were surveyed. Each survey block measures 5 x 5 km (3 x 3 mi). There are 5,332 blocks in the entire state. Atlasers visited various habitats within their assigned block(s) and recorded evidence of breeding for the birds they saw, using defined Breeding Codes.

Special Thanks:

To the 1,200 volunteers whose hard work has made the Breeding Bird Atlas a success!


DEC has a Breeding Bird Altas dataset for Google Maps and Google Earth that shows the location of the Atlas survey blocks in the New York State, a list of birds breeding in each block, and a map of the distribution for each species that breeds in New York.

Breeding Codes - Read the complete description of each breeding code used in data collection.

Handbook for Workers (PDF, 147 KB) - Detailed instructions on how to survey an Atlas block.

Breeding Season Table (PDF, 33 KB) - Nesting dates, adapted from the first Atlas.

Hints on Haunts (PDF, 27 KB) - Additional surveying tips.

The New York State Breeding Bird Atlas is a Cooperative Project of the Following Organizations:

  • New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

(The following links leave DEC website:)

Funding Was Provided by:

For More Information, Contact:

Breeding Bird Atlas Project
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-4754

More about New York State Breeding Bird Atlas:

  • Breeding Bird Atlas Data and Maps - Species lists, distribution maps and maps of survey blocks from the 1st (1980-1985) and 2nd (2000-2005) Breeding Bird Atlas Projects.
  • Breeding Bird Atlas Breeding Codes - The New York State Breeding Bird Atlas uses three categories to record breeding behavior: Possible (PO), Probable (PR), and Confirmed (CO).