Species Accounts & Common References

The data reflected in the maps that follow were collected between 1974 and 1979. No attempt has been made to update these data, as this would confound the chief value of any distributional survey, namely to serve as a clearly delineated benchmark with which to compare future surveys. Dramatic status changes during the late 1990s have been noted in the appropriate species accounts, and brief accounts of "new" species are described in the section Additional Species. Readers seeking additional information about the status, seasonal distribution, and migratory behavior of birds in Massachusetts should refer to Birds of Massachusettsby Richard R. Veit and Wayne R. Petersen (1993).

The species accounts represent the labors of 90 authors who were invited to compile relevant facts and add appropriate commentary for every bird species that was confirmed breeding in Massachusetts during the Atlas 1 period. Authors were selected because they either were particularly knowledgeable about or had a special interest in a particular species. The content of the individual species accounts, while pleasingly reflective of the writing styles of the different authors, provides information that is consistent in substance and should be of interest to general readers, birders, conservation strategists, and land-use planners. The accounts provide a brief overview of each species' historical status in Massachusetts, along with any notable geographic or ecological association revealed by the Atlas 1 effort.

Much of the general information in the species accounts has been distilled from Edward Howe Forbush's (EHF) Birds of Massachusetts and Other New England States (1925, 1927, 1929) and Arthur Cleveland Bent's (ACB) Life Histories of North American Birds (1919 to 1968). Five other resources consistently referenced in the species accounts are American Birds (AB), Bird Observer of Eastern Massachusetts (BOEM) (now Bird Observer), the Cornell Nest Record program (CNR), David Kenneth Wetherbee's (DKW) The Birds and Mammals of Worcester County, Massachusetts (1945), and The Chickadee (TC), a journal published by the Forbush Bird Club.

Besides including information obtained from these resources, the species accounts provide data on habitat preferences, vocalizations, courtship behavior, nest and egg characteristics, breeding chronology, fledgling data, the timing of annual molts, the status of each species after the breeding season, and other valuable or interesting information uncovered by the authors. Each species account is accompanied by an accurate full-color illustration by bird illustrator John Sill or Barry W. Van Dusen.

This volume is intended to be a comprehensive, useful, and attractive reference work on the breeding birds of Massachusetts. It should be emphasized, however, that it is first and foremost an atlas-a book of maps, painstakingly created out of many thousands of observations made by a small army of dedicated birdwatchers over a five-year period. The data represented in these distribution maps is a significant contribution to the ornithology of the Commonwealth that, we hope, will promote the conservation of the extraordinary bird life of Massachusetts.