I’ve been birding for as long as I can remember, having been introduced to birds and nature by my parents as a kid outside Waterloo. During Atlas-2 we had a “family square” near home but I also atlassed elsewhere including Algonquin and Charleston Lake. I’ve always been interested in citizen science as a way for birders to “give back” to birds and bird conservation and love having “excuses” to go birding. I’ve been lucky to study and work on many bird-related projects around the province and have a special fondness for working in remote areas. I coordinate eBird and Christmas Bird Count quality control in Ontario and am a member of the Birds Species Specialist Subcommittee for COSEWIC. I’m on loan to Environment and Climate Change Canada to coordinate the final three years of Atlas-3, which I’m very excited about since I get to combine my love of birds, bird conservation, and citizen science and work with the province’s birding community. My home position is with the Natural Heritage Information Centre (OMNRF) and focuses on keeping track of rare species – where they are and how they’re doing, so I’m especially excited to see all the new information the atlas reveals.
Atlas Project Manager
I have always been drawn to the outdoors. However, my introduction to avian research was as a wildlife technician studying aerial insectivores during the summers of my Undergraduate studies. This led me to pursue a Master of Science in Biology at Western University studying niche segregation among sympatric Barn, Cliff, and Tree swallows. Being immersed in bird research encouraged me to pursue a higher degree of bird identification knowledge, and also fostered my love of bird watching. This is my first ever Breeding Bird Atlas – I am thrilled to be a part of such a widespread, collaborative project. I feel extremely fortunate to work alongside the dedicated volunteers, collaborators, and staff towards our shared goal of bird conservation.
Atlas Field Biologist
I am excited to be a part of this important long-term avian research initiative. I took up birding as a hobby in middle school and continue to find it as rewarding as ever. Although I have been fortunate enough to travel the world for bird research, I ultimately find comfort in studying the birds of my home province of Ontario, and this Atlas provides an opportunity to do just that. After submitting some casual observations in 2021 while finishing my MSc at the University of Guelph, I got involved more formally with the Atlas in the spring of 2022 when I led a Northern field crew. I plan to continue working on the project in some capacity over the next 3 years, and I look forward to seeing and interpreting the results. In addition to the science, I find the collaborative nature of this project to be an excellent environment in which to meet people working in a variety of organizations and disciplines.
Scott Da Rocha
Atlas Field Biologist
I first developed an interest in birds in 2015 while completing field courses for Seneca College’s Environmental Technician program. My interest grew further the following summer, when I began erosion monitoring work with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). Being exposed to the natural world on a day-to-day basis drew me into the beauty of all its creatures and led me to complete a BSc in Biology from York University. This new knowledge gave me the tools to perform various wildlife surveys for the TRCA, including bat, frog and nocturnal wildlife inventories. All the owls I observed during this period left me the desire to work more closely with bird species. In the summer of 2022 I joined the Atlas field staff and performed bird surveys throughout the Sudbury and Algonquin areas. I’m thrilled to be working on the Atlas once more this fall and winter and am grateful to be able to continue working in conservation to protect the wildlife I admire so deeply.
Database and Website
Denis Lepage is the Senior Director, Data Science and Technology for Birds Canada. He has been working with Birds Canada since 2000. He completed his doctoral thesis (Ph.D.) on the nesting biology of Greater Snow Geese on Bylot Island (Nunavut) in 1997, and conducted a post-doctoral study on bird ecology in South African from 1998 to 2000. His work has led him to become a skilled programmer and database manager, and to develop information systems for use with ornithological data, including the NatureCounts database and the Motus Wildlife Tracking System. As well as managing the central database for BSC, he has participated in the planning and realisation of seven atlas projects in Canada (Ontario-2, British Columbia, Maritimes, Manitoba, Québec, Newfoundland and Ontario-3). Denis is responsible for the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas database, and for the majority of the technical aspects of the website. Denis also devotes much of his free time to his website Avibase, one of the most visited ornithology websites in the world.
Spatial Analysis and Mapping
Atlas Coordinator (retired 2022)
I love Breeding Bird Atlases. Having coordinated the first two Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas projects, I’m thrilled and excited to be coordinating Atlas-3. My first recollection of an interest in birds was, when I was 5 years old and attending my first professional soccer game (in England), watching Rock Pigeons doing their fascinating mating displays in the rafters over the heads of my uncle and I. He wasn’t too happy that I was watching the birds rather than the game – but he’d probably be happy to know that these two activities (soccer and birding) remain a big part of my life. It’s wonderful to see how atlassing has developed in Ontario, across Canada and around the world. The new innovations being introduced for Atlas-3 are making it easier for volunteers to take part and increasing the value of the data. [Mike retired at the end of 2022 but his passion for the project remains and he continues his involvement through many aspects Atlas-3].