Birders, We Need Your Help to Finish the NC Bird Atlas

We’re entering the final TWO breeding seasons for this important state-wide project.

The North Carolina Bird Atlas is a state-wide effort to count breeding and overwintering birds. It began in 2021 with the goal of finding and confirming at least 55 breeding species in each of the 937 priority blocks spread out across the state. We currently have 35 priority blocks complete, and we need your help to finish this important community science project over the next two years. 

The goal of the bird atlas is to help us understand the current and future distribution and abundance of our state’s birds. Since atlasters specifically focus on breeding and wintering birds, the project will give us an idea of what species are residents of North Carolina and what regions of the state they rely on the most.  

The first step to being able to conserve important habitat, improve the health and abundance of key species, and foster greater biodiversity in our state is having a detailed picture of our birds and what they depend on to be healthy.  

“The atlas helps us to do just that,” said Scott Anderson, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Science Support Coordinator. “This is one of the most important sources of data for learning more about the birds that live in and depend on North Carolina’s natural resources year-round. We can then make more informed management and conservation decisions across the state.” 

While there’s still a long way to go, there has been a lot of progress with the atlas so far. Over 39,000 bird behavior observations have been made in priority blocks. These observations are a step beyond just identifying a bird. It requires observers to notice and record what a bird is doing—maybe it’s carrying a caterpillar in its bill or gathering twigs to build a nest. These are signs that a bird might be breeding. By recording these detailed observations for the atlas, we can confirm that a species is breeding. The goal is to confirm as many breeding species as possible within priority blocks. Thus far, just 19 percent of these blocks have reached the minimum number of bird observations with behavior codes to consider the block complete.  

Because atlasing goes farther than eBirding by asking observers to record breeding behavior, it requires a level of bird identification and bahavior knowledge to be able to accurately record observations in the field. That’s why we’re calling on experienced birders across the state to contribute their time and skill to the North Carolina Bird Atlas. 

Getting started 

Experienced birders will be familair with eBird interface and submitting checklists, and submitting observations for the North Carolina Bird Atlas isn’t much different. All you have to do is switch your portal in eBird to the North Carolina Bird Atlas. Learn how to change the portal here. 

Once you switch your eBird portal to the atlas, you can then add bird breeding behavior codes to your checklists at the end of your outing. So if you observe a robin gathering twigs or loose material on the ground and carrying that to a tree to form a nest, you can add the nest building behavior code (NB) to that observation. Here are some other tips to get you started: 

  • If you’re unsure about where you should spend time, choose any under-visited priority block using the block explorer. 

  • Make sure you only use breeding codes for species that breed in our state and are currently in their breeding window/season. 

  • Leave comments on your checklists, especially when you observe something unique, this helps us better understand the codes you’re using and what birds may be up to. 

The North Carolina Bird Atlas website has a lot of resources to help you get started including a printable guide with breeding codes, species to lookout for, and atlasing tips to help you when you’re out in the field. 

If you’re interested in atlasing but don’t know where to start, connect with your local Audubon chapter, Engagement Director Ben Graham at, or Science Support Coordinator Scott Anderson at 

How you can help, right now