Resources - Overview
One of the primary roles of NORAC has been to develop standards and provide information resources for ornithological atlases in North America.
The most important document developed, to date, was the
Handbook for Atlasing North American Breeding Birds, edited by Charles R. Smith and published in 1990 by the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, in an English and Spanish version, supported by a grant from the Merck Family Fund. This document incorporated all of the guidelines developed up until that time.
Both the English and Spanish versions are now
available here in electronic
format on this website.
Since 1990, there have been many new developments in bird atlases. There have been major advances in computers, data management tools, data presentation tools, communication tools, electronic mapping, etc. Several different web-based data management systems are now available for running atlases. New standards are being adopted that allow linking of data from multiple atlases. The start (and more recently completion) of a number of second round atlases has led to changing ideas about the most important information being gathered through atlases. Quantitative sampling approaches are being increasingly considered, and new methods of statistically analysing data have been developed.
Over time, we would like to formalize a lot of this information into new documents that will update the 1990 handbook, and post them on this site.
In the meantime, a lot of ideas have been discussed in past meetings that may be very useful to anybody involved in running or planning bird atlases in North America. Of particular note are the detailed records made of the 1999 and 2006 meetings which are available on the
Past meetings page.