Date: 2/1/18 4:02 pm
From: Brent Ortego <brentortego...>
Subject: [texbirds] Breeding Bird Survey 2018 Volunteer Request 1
Looking ahead to another field season, I am seeking volunteers to survey a route during one day in May or June each year. More details are provided below and at the U.S. Geological Survey Breeding Bird Survey website.


This is my annual request for volunteer sign-up to conduct roadside breeding bird surveys (BBS) in Texas during 2018. There are 3 vacancies in West Texas, 2 in North Central Texas, 7 in Central Texas, 3 in Northeast Texas, 2 in Southeast Texas, 1 in the Coastal Prairie, and 7 in South Texas. Read below for more details.

For those not familiar with the survey methodology, the BBS is the National Survey which is the primary source for breeding bird population trends in the nation. This survey has about 3000 randomly located routes across the United States. Each route is 24.5 miles long with 50 stops spaced 0.5 miles apart. At each stop during a 3 minute period, the observer tallies all birds seen within ¼ mile and all birds heard. The route lasts from 30 minutes before sunrise until you finish which is normally about 11 a.m. The route needs to be run ONCE each year during the months of May or June; exact dates vary with each route. It might require a pre-survey scouting trip just to familiarize yourself with the route, and a little paper/computer work after the route is done. The observer needs to be able to identify most of the birds along the route by call and all by sight. Along routes in agricultural areas, this might only mean about 20 species by call, but in more complex forested areas i
t might mean 70 species.

National and local conservation organizations regularly use BBS data (see in their analysis. They focus very strongly on breeding bird population trends generated by YOUR DATA, and also used bird density data extensively. Partners In Flight has developed models to estimate breeding density and distribution for all species they are tracking with BBS data. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has used the data when they developed a statewide conservation plan for birds (see . Conservation “Joint Ventures” across the nation regularly use BBS data as they implement their new “All Birds” management goals. It has been very satisfying seeing the product of our works being used to influence national and local decisions on avian conservation.

Texas has 196 BBS routes and 25 vacancies. The National Office has started listing routes as vacant when they have not received data from a volunteer for two years. If you see your route listed as vacant, check your files and resubmit your data because the National Office has not received it.

This seems like a lot of routes, but it is not for a state our size. Due to the variability of the data, we are trying to run at least 14 routes per ecological area and there are 10 ecological areas in Texas. This should provide us a statistically valid sample of population trends of birds breeding near highways. We are getting close to obtaining this sample size in every bird region. We always have problems getting qualified birders to do routes in the more rural parts of the State. While there are plenty of good birders in Texas, the birders are concentrated in urban areas and the birds are spread throughout the State causing logistics problems of running routes in remote parts of the Texas. A classic example is West Texas and the Panhandle, lots of country and few birders.

When you volunteer, I will need your NAME, MAILING ADDRESS, E-MAIL, TELEPHONE NUMBER and ROUTE of interest.

I am listing below vacant routes by geographic areas. Species data for each route can be obtained at the link = Those areas with the largest numbers of vacancies are the areas needing the most help. If you are interesting in helping, or would like more information, reply to this e-mail.


No vacancies!


Route 088 Altuda Brewster County

Route 099 Slaughter Hudspeth County

Route 418 Pumpville Val Verde County


Route 063 Weatherford Parker County

Route 078 Grayback Wilbarger County


Route 112 Ozona Crockett County

Route 237 Carlos Brazos County

Route 249 Thornton 3 Limestone County

Route 317 Montell Uvalde County

Route 325 Prairie Mtn Llano County

Route 328 Devil’s River Can Crockett County

Route 353 Hawley Jones County


Route 056 Morton Harrison County

Route 058 Athens Henderson County

Route 349 Mount Selman Cherokee County


Route 322 Union Hill Walker County

Route 334 Powell Park San Augustine County


Route 306 Oyster Lake Matagorda County


Route 008 Mirando City Webb County

Route 016 George West Live Oak County

Route 118 Catarina 2 Dimmit County

Route 204 Guerra Zapata County

Route 209 Encinal 2 La Salle County

Route 308 Three Rivers Live Oak County

Route 409 Millett La Salle County

 location of route maps raw data online retrieval system link provides location of species totals by route by year. Explore US Results and Analysis tab. BBS Methods

Brent Ortego


Victoria, TX

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