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Oklahoma Winter Bird Atlas

583 blocks surveyed

A map of the 583 blocks surveyed under the project.

The Sutton Avian Research Center is conducting a Winter Bird Atlas Project in Oklahoma. Field work was completed from late 2003 through early 2008. The atlas project utilized volunteers to survey approximately 600 randomly selected blocks of land throughout Oklahoma, identifying all of the species present in these blocks during winter. After the field work was completed, maps showing the wintering distribution for each species throughout the state were produced, and combined with text and a color photo for each species.

The resulting book is currently nearing completion and may be available by 2014. This project complements the Oklahoma Breeding Bird Atlas. One long-term benefit of atlas projects is that they can be repeated in 20-25 years, and changes in the distributions of birds may indicate the well being of those species in the state.

Project objectives and methods

The Oklahoma Winter Bird Atlas Project (2003-2008) is an effort to gather data on the winter distributions of birds in our state. The results will be an atlas, a collection of maps, showing where each bird is found in winter. We expect to publish the survey results in book format following the five years of field work. Over 40 states have either started or completed similar breeding bird atlas projects, but few have yet begun projects for wintering birds.

The information gained from such projects provides a systematically gathered and repeatable "snapshot" of winter bird distribution within a five-year time frame. In the short-term, the information that is gathered will provide a more up-to-date and detailed picture of the winter distribution of birds in Oklahoma than is now available. In the long-term, the atlas will provide a benchmark of winter bird distribution in the early 21st century that can be compared to results of a repeated atlas project in 20 or 30 years. The value of such information for bird conservation will be substantial, and this project offers you a chance to contribute in a very meaningful way.

The Winter Bird Atlas is being organized and administered by the George M. Sutton Avian Research Center (GMSARC) which is a non-profit organization affiliated with the Oklahoma Biological Survey at the University of Oklahoma.

The data for the winter bird atlas project consist of a rough measure of abundance for each species recorded in a survey block (see below for block information). The winter season is further divided into early and late halves, to allow for analysis of movements of wintering birds through the course of a season.

To gather data for the atlas, we are used a grid of 7.5 minute quads established by the U. S. Geological Survey. Each of these quads is 7.5 x7.5 minutes of latitude and longitude, or approximately 7 x 8 miles, about one-third the area of a Christmas Bird Count circle. The grid covers the entire state, with about 1200 quads covering Oklahoma. However, the atlas project will be sampling only one-sixth of every-other quad. This unit of land is referred to as an atlas block, and is about 3.5 x 3 miles in size.

Nearly 600 such blocks have been surveyed in the five years of atlas field work. We have selected this sampling scheme because of Oklahoma's relatively large land area and small birder population compared to many of the eastern states which have surveyed more intensively. These are the same blocks that were used during the Oklahoma Breeding Bird Atlas Project.

Feel free to contact us for more information.