The Significance of Atlas Data: Understanding Bird Population Trends
Why a bird atlas? You can’t help the birds if you don’t know where they are and whether their population is declining, stable or increasing. When this atlas is completed five years from now, it will provide data on bird population trends in Pennsylvania that span forty years.
But it’s not just for the birds. Changes in bird population are an early indicator of trouble when habitat is degraded, unfortunately, most often as a direct or indirect result of human interference. Atlas data will help researchers and conservation professionals identify both species at risk and habitats in need of protection.
For example, a sighting of a male Scarlet Tanager with its bright red plumage and contrasting jet-black wings is always a crowd favorite on the bird walks at Tyler. Pennsylvania is host to 17% of the world’s population of breeding Scarlet Tanagers, more than any other state. Tyler Arboretum and the adjacent Ridley Creek State Park provide ideal breeding habitat for Scarlet Tanagers, who prefer to nest in large patches of mature deciduous trees. But this makes them sensitive to forest fragmentation.