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Breeding Bird Atlas

What is a Breeding Bird Atlas?birding

The Breeding Bird Atlas is a comprehensive survey that inventories bird species that breed in a state or province. Bird surveyors visit pre-selected sampling blocks distributed throughout the state or province over a multiyear period to fully document and map the distribution of breeding birds. 

In Indiana, the first Breeding Bird Atlas was conducted from 1985 to 1990 and results were published (Castrale, Hopkins, and Keller 1998). This atlas provided baseline information on the summering bird distributions and relative occurrences of 162 bird species.

Twenty years later, survey methods were repeated to analyze changes in bird distributions and abundances and to inform changes in land use, climatic patterns, and other environmental variables. Surveys were conducted between 2005 and 2011. Data and findings are being reviewed and the publication date is expected within the next few years.

Atlas information provides valuable information for bird conservation efforts in Indiana. For example, atlas data are used in environmental reviews, identifying important bird areas, and assessing the relative rarity of birds.

When do birds breed in Indiana?

Birds typically breed in Indiana throughout the spring and summer, but there are many exceptions. For example, bald eagles will begin courtship displays and nest building in December. The following chart provides “safe dates” which gives periods for each species when most migrants have left and those birds that remain are likely nesting: Safe Dates Chart 

Like to learn more about Indiana’s Breeding Bird Atlases?

Please contact the Indiana DNR’s state ornithologist Allisyn-Marie Gillet at agillet@dnr.IN.gov to request more information.

Want to help Indiana’s birds?

Bird monitoring in Indiana is funded, in part, by citizen donations to the Indiana Nongame Wildlife Fund. To support this project and others like it, visit our donate page.

Breeding Bird Atlas




Castrale, John S., Edward M. Hopkins, and Charles E. Keller, eds. 1998. Atlas of Breeding Birds of Indiana. Indianapolis, IN: Indiana Department of Natural Resources. 388pp.