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Breeding Bird Surveys are underway

Birds seen on my BBS
Birds seen on my BBS
Joseph Kennedy

Volunteers across the United States and Canada are currently participating in Breeding Bird Surveys (BBS). The purpose of the surveys is to assess trends in bird conservation.

Dawn breaks as survey begins
Dawn breaks as survey begins
Royce Pendergast

The surveys were begun in 1966. At that time pesticides such as DDT were impacting bird populations. Today the BBS has adopted more widespread threats to birds including habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, land-use changes and other chemical issues.

The BBS is a joint effort of the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Center and the Canadian Wildlife Research Center. They use data from the surveys to evaluate the status of more than 450 bird species. Other organizations such as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Partners in Flight use BBS information to assess bird conservation priorities.

Roadside survey routes 24.5 miles long are assigned to volunteers skilled in bird identification both by sight and sound. Stops are made at 0.5 mile intervals. At each stop a three minute observation is made. Bird species seen or heard are recorded before continuing another 0.5 miles. The assessment involves 50 stops.

Surveys begin one-half hour before local sunrise and take about five hours. Each year the same routes are followed revealing any changes that may be occuring in avian populations.

I have monitored a survey route for over 10 years and find it very interesting and enjoyable. Those interested in volunteering can obtain information from BBS.

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