Book Reviews

The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario (2001-2005) is a monumental achievement. Not only is it a stirring example of co-operative research – the field work alone entailed over 150,000 hours logged by more than 3000 volunteers – but the detailed results of that research have been presented with a remarkable clarity and style.

Invaluable for the thoroughness of its science, the Atlas is also a wonderful book to simply browse. The species accounts are clean, jargon-free, and inviting; the graphics contain a wealth of visual information; and the text is profusely illustrated with photographs of the birds, and frequently their nests and/or typical habitats.

This book is a must for everyone interested in birds, Ontario, and the natural world.

—Margaret Atwood & Graeme Gibson, Joint Honorary Presidents of BirdLife International’s Rare Bird Club

Excerpt from a book review published in Ontario Birds: This book will surely serve as a model for other atlas projects worldwide, as it shows how the raw data from atlas projects can be refined in various ways to make them more useful for conservation planning. It is a classic in several respects. It represents a unique collaboration between national, provincial, and non-governmental organizations; a Herculean effort to sample the huge roadless areas of northern Ontario; use of five-minute point counts adjusted for time of day to estimate relative abundance throughout the province; and use of kriging to interpolate abundance from the 24 nearest neighbors to each target cell for abundance mapping. As a salute to the environment, the paper on which the book is printed was harvested from responsibly managed forests certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and net profits from the book will be used for bird conservation projects in Ontario.

—Chandler S. Robbins, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (excerpt from Ontario Birds)

I find the new Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario amazing and am delighted by its beauty and detail. The photographs of the birds are excellent and the graphic work is clear and absorbing. To view the book will be a joy for any birder but beyond that anyone who cares about our environment will find the data thought-provoking. The dark dots that indicate breeding in the first atlas but not breeding at present should be disturbing in many cases. What is happening to eliminate these birds from those areas? I would hope that this book was widely read beyond the birding community. It will stimulate interest in these valuable and fascinating creatures and it might help to guide environmental policies for the future.

—Robert Bateman

The “Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario” is wonderful, from cover to cover. Like many atlassers, I had been eagerly anticipating it, and while I had a sense from the first atlas and the website what to expect, the final result is simply outstanding. The more I refer to it, the more engaging and useful I’m finding it.

The introductory text is comprehensive, thoughtful and instructive. The pictures are a refreshing view of many species and each map provides a picture that quickly conveys more than just the sum of our square by square efforts. The dot colours in the maps work beautifully, and the methods of showing whether or not breeding evidence was found in the first versus the second atlas are clever and so very helpful. The listing of all atlassers along with their helpers seems to be me a great tribute to all who volunteered to make the project a success. The sponsors are nicely acknowledged also — as a group, they comprise a strong and varied team. The fact that the Atlas was printed on FSC paper is further evidence of the commitment of the project to conservation.

The Atlas is a testament to the patience and work of many people over many years. Congratulations to all who have invested so much time and talent to this important research and conservation initiative.

—Steven Price, Senior Director; Conservation Science, Policy & Planning
World Wildlife Fund Canada

After eagerly awaiting the arrival of my copy of the “Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario 2001-2005” for a few weeks, I was excited to find it sitting on my doorstep yesterday afternoon. From the stunning cover photograph of Prairie Warbler to the extensive content inside, the book quickly proved that it was well worth the wait. In fact, I think this new Ontario Atlas is the finest breeding bird atlas that I have ever seen.

—Matt Medler, Boreal Songbird Initiative

Atlas 2 (2001-2005)

The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario, 2001-2005 is the most authoritative and up-to-date resource on birds and bird distribution in the province. With over 400 colour photographs, the atlas provides detailed information on the distribution and population status of Ontario birds. It includes more than 900 maps illustrating the breeding range for all Ontario species, and range changes since the first atlas twenty years ago. Innovative new maps and population estimates for many species reveal how numbers vary across the province’s vast and diverse landscape.

The atlas represents an enormous coordinated effort by over 3,000 birders who surveyed the province from Lake Erie to Hudson Bay. It summarizes the state of Ontario birds, including information on each species’ biology and abundance. Special sections analyze changes in bird populations and distribution, indicating which species are most imperiled and which are thriving.

The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario, 2001-2005 is the definitive reference not only for birdwatchers and biologists, but for anyone with an interest in nature and the state of the environment. It will be of great interest to all naturalists and an invaluable tool for those trying to understand the impacts of changing land-use, habitat loss and pollution on the natural world.

Published by: Bird Studies Canada, Environment Canada, Ontario Field Ornithologists, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and Ontario Nature. Editors: Michael D. Cadman, Donald A. Sutherland, Gregor G. Beck, Denis Lepage, and Andrew R. Couturier.

Atlas-2 Topo MapsRegion & square maps Atlas-2 Coding SheetsReference sheets Atlas-2 Square SummarySquare summary & coverage sheets

Ordering information

You can now order your copy of the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario, 2001-2005.

You can place your order online through the Ontario Nature website, or you can contact Ontario Nature by phone
1-800-440-2366 toll free or 416-444-8419 ext. 234 in the GTA.

You can view sample layouts from the Atlas. The book is hard cover, over 700 pages long, and:

  • Is beautifully designed, with full-colour, state-of-the-art maps and photographs accompanying each of the more than 300 species accounts;
  • Contains detailed maps showing the current distribution of each breeding species in the province, and how its distribution has changed over the past 20 years;
  • Provides the first detailed maps of the relative abundance of many species in Ontario;
  • Contains easy to read species accounts providing an overview of the species’ breeding range and habitat, distribution, population status and history in Ontario, emphasizing changes from the first atlas, plus information on breeding biology and abundance;
  • Has information on Ontario’s biogeography, overall changes in bird populations, ranges, and trends, and an overview of atlas results;
  • Mentions all participants and contributors by name.


The sponsors of the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas extend their sincere thanks to the numerous supporters, contributors, and volunteers of this enormous and important bird research and conservation project. The following listing of atlas friends and collaborators illustrates the extent of participation and the strength of the partnerships involved.

The sponsors of the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas have made every effort to acknowledge and include the names of all contributors and project supporters, but should any names have been inadvertently omitted, please accept our sincere apologies and notify us immediately so that corrections can be made here and in other materials.

The Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas thanks the following for their financial support:

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Canadian Boreal Initiative
Edwards Charitable Foundation Human Resources and Skills Development Canada’s Summer Career Placement Program The McLean Foundation
De Beers Canada Inc. Eagle

The Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas thanks the following for providing in-kind support:

Environment Canada
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Abitibi-Consolidated Company of Canada Limited
Algonquin Forestry Authority
Air Creebec Inc.
Bearskin Airlines
Bird Studies Canada
Bowater Canada Incorporated
Canadian Forest Service
Canoe Frontier Expeditions
De Beers Canada Inc.
Domtar Incorporated
Ducks Unlimited Canada
ESRI Canada
Kanipahow Kamps and Adams Lake Outfitters
Kimberly-Clark Incorporated
LGL Limited
Musselwhite Mine (Goldcorp Canada Ltd.)
Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario
Northern Ontario Native Tourism Association
North Star Air Ltd.
OMNR Aviation Services
Ontario Field Ornithologists
Ontario Nature
Pine Portage Lodge
Spruce Shores Lodge
Tembec Incorporated
University of Guelph, Faculty of Environmental Sciences
Viking Island Lodge
Wasaya Airways
Weyerhaeuser Company of Canada
Wildlife Habitat Canada

The Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas thanks the following First Nation communities and organizations for their participation and support of the project:

Cat Lake
Fort Albany
Fort Severn
Moose Factory
Mushkegowuk Council
North Caribou
North Spirit Lake
Six Nations
Slate Falls
Walpole Island

The Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas extends its sincere thanks to everyone who contributed their time to the project, including volunteers, regional coordinators, staff and committee members. The complete list of contributors is available here in PDF format.

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