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. https://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bbs/index.cfm
BREEDING BIRD SURVEY VOLUNTEERS NEEDED
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 www.stateofthebirds.org) 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 http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/pwdpubs/pwd_pl_w7000_1187a/) . 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 = https://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bbs/RouteMap/Map.cfm. 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.