Atlas Daily Observation Form

We are pleased to introduce a new addition to the atlas toolbox in 2011 - The atlas Daily observation form. It is important to state from the outset that this is strictly a voluntary addition to atlassing. Atlas participants are not required to submit daily forms. Some atlassers, however, may find this enjoyable and beneficial.

The atlas daily observation form is very similar to the breeding evidence form. The major difference is that observers should use at least one atlas daily observation form for each visit to an atlas square, in a similar fashion to an eBird checklist. The observations reported on an atlas Daily observation form must come from only one atlas square on only one observation date. It is nonetheless to submit more than one atlas form if you visit more than one site within the same atlas square or visit the same square more than once on the same day.

The atlas Daily observation form has several advantages because it generates a great deal of additional information without a great deal of extra effort (many participants already record their sightings on a daily basis). A further attraction is that daily forms can be submitted into the atlas database and then imported into eBird, thus saving time for Atlassers of contribute to both.

The main advantages of atlas daily observation forms are:

  • Improved knowledge of breeding phenology By recording the precise date of each observation, it will become much easier to define the breeding dates (safe dates) in each atlas region.
  • Better indicators of relative abundance Because the number of individual birds are recorded, atlas daily observation forms can be used to generate indices of relative abundance and, above all, to compare changes in abundance from atlas to atlas in a much more precise manner
  • Better efficiency of data entry (less work) For those who like to submit their atlas records to eBird, this can now be done on a single form! An export tool will be available later this year that will produce a file that you can use to import into eBird. In addition, records from your atlas daily observations get transferred automatically to your breeding evidence form(s), making this the most efficient way of entering detailed data.

General Instructions

1. You can download a printable PDF copy of the atlas Daily observation form for your area below. The atlas Daily observation forms have the same four options as breeding evidence forms with a list of the most likely species in each part of the province:

2. Fill out at least one new atlas daily form for each visit to an atlas square. If you visit a site that is spread over two squares, please submit two forms, one for each square.

3. You can, however, submit more than one atlas form per day in the same square if 1) you visit different sites in the square for which you wish to report observation separately, or 2) if you make separate visits at different times on the same day and wish to report them separately. This is totally optional and you can also decide to report all sightings together on a single form, as long as each form corresponds to a visit for the same day within the same atlas square.

4. The breeding evidence codes from your daily observations get automatically transferred to your breeding evidence forms for the relevant squares. Therefore, you can use atlas Daily observation forms instead of breeding evidence forms or, if you wish, continue to use your breeding evidence forms for those occasions where you don't fill out a daily observations.

5. At some point this year, we will add an export option that will enable you to import your atlas daily observations into eBird, eliminating the need to submit these data twice.

6. Note that you can use the atlas daily observation form to report migratory species that do not breed in your square. In this case, simply report the number of individuals observed and do not include a breeding evidence code. The code "X" should be limited to birds detected during the breeding season but not in breeding habitat. If you observe a species that you would normally have included on your breeding evidence form, leave the breeding evidence code blank.

7. During times of year when you observe many migratory species that do not breed locally, you may observe many species that are not on the atlas form. Those can be added to the additional species section also entered online on the atlas site. If you are not recording ALL birds seen on a visit to an atlas square on your daily form, please answer "No" to the question "Is this a complete list of birds observed during this visit?"

How to Fill Out Printed Atlas Daily Observation Forms

1. At the top of the form you will see the standard atlas information: square number, year, and participant number. Please also indicate the date of your visit. We encourage you to record the start and end time of your visit, the number of party hours (refer to the Guide for Atlassers).

2. Optionally, you can also record the total distance covered on the daily observation form, as well as a site name and coordinates for the center of that site if you surveyed a specific area of the square.

3. Please indicate whether you are submitting a "complete list of birds observed during this visit" or not. For example, if you exclude some passage migrants or only record the most interesting observations of the day, please answer "No" to this question. We encourage you to report all birds at every visit when you are using the Daily observation form.

4. For every species, indicate the number of individuals of each species observed and a breeding evidence code. The number of individuals includes all birds of that species observed on the visit in question, including juveniles and non-breeding individuals. The breeding evidence code used should be the highest observed for each species on the visit in question.

5. If you observe species that are not on the form, write them in at the end of the form. Species codes are not required if you are planning to enter your data online.

6. When you have finished your daily observation form, we strongly encourage you to submit your data online rather than mailing us scannable forms (the latter could result in a lot of work, and will require in delays of at least several months before the data become available online).

How to Enter Atlas Daily Observation Forms Online

1. Daily Observation records are entered on the same page as the breeding evidence form. After logging on, make sure the squares for which you wish to submit data are in your list of squares, and then select the breeding evidence form for the relevant square in the usual manner.

2. On the breeding evidence form, you will see a new button labeled "Daily observations". When you click on this button you will see a modified breeding evidence form. When you are viewing this modified form, you can return to the original format by clicking on the button that reads "Standard form".

3. The information filled out at the top of the printed Daily observation form should be entered under the "Visits" tabs. Use a new line for each daily form you wish to enter. For example, if you have completed three daily forms for three different sites that you visited within a single atlas square, you would enter a total of three lines here.

4. The first 3 columns on the species pages are the same columns as on the standard version: "Visit", "BE" and "Abund". Those columns represent the cumulative tally of your observations in the square during this season: for each species, the first visit when it was detected, the highest breeding evidence code reported during the season, and the abundance code representing an estimate of the total population size in the square (refer to the Guide for Atlassers for more details)

5. The next set of columns is for reporting bird numbers and breeding evidence codes from daily observations. There will be one pair of columns for every visit that you have entered in the visit table previously, and each will show the date as a reminder at the top. A maximum of four visits will be visible at one time per page at any given time. To change the visits that are viewable, click on the arrow in the box that reads "Show visits:" near the top of the form.

6. When you submit new observations in the daily observation columns, these will be compared to the highest breeding evidence indicated for the relevant square. If the breeding evidence code you enter in a daily observation column is higher, it will replace the previous highest breeding evidence code in your square. Note however that the opposite is not true, i.e. if, after reflecting on your observation, you decide to lower the breeding evidence code on a daily form, it is important to decide whether or not the square breeding evidence code needs lowering manually. Since the highest breeding code could have come from various sources (your casual observations or point counts), the highest breeding evidence for the square will not be lowered automatically, and you must lower it yourself as needed.

7. If you notice that a breeding evidence code for a given square is lower than the code you had previously entered through a daily observation form, it is possible that your Regional Coordinator or a atlas staff member has lowered the code. You will normally be notified of such changes by email. In case of doubt or if you have questions, please contact your Regional Coordinator directly.

8. If you need to report species that are not in the default list of species for your square, you can change the list being displayed with the option "Select a checklist to display". While in Daily observations entry mode, you will notice an additional list that includes "All species (including non-breeders)". This will provide a complete list of all birds likely to occur in the province. This includes accidental species and birds not known to breed in the province, but you will notice that you cannot report a breeding evidence code for those species. If you do happen to find evidence of breeding for one of those species, please contact the atlas office as soon as possible.

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