By Bonnie Chasteen
Each month, we highlight research MDC uses to improve fish, forest, and wildlife management.
If you can identify every bird in your area by sight and sound, Janet Haslerig has a mission for you: Help with Missouri’s annual North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) this summer.
“Bird populations are subjected to numerous, widespread threats including habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, land-use changes, chemical contaminants, and climate change,” said Haslerig, resource scientist in MDC’s Resource Science Division. “If significant declines are detected through BBS data, their causes can then be identified and appropriate actions taken to reverse them before populations reach critically low levels.”
The BBS is a long-term, large-scale, international bird monitoring program that started in 1966. It tracks the status and trends of North American bird populations. Each year during the height of the bird breeding season for most of the U.S., BBS volunteers collect bird population data along roadside survey routes. Each survey route is 24 1/2 miles, with stops at ½-mile intervals. At each stop, volunteers conduct three-minute point counts. They record data for the bird species and numbers they see or hear within a quarter-mile radius. Surveys must start a half-hour before sunrise, and they take about five hours to complete.
Haslerig hopes surveyors will commit to several years of collecting data on the same route. “It helps with the consistency in data collection,” she said. “Volunteers also get familiar with the routes and have better ideas what birds they will encounter. And it’s fun!”
Volunteers must have the ability to identify all breeding birds on their routes by sight and sound. They must also successfully complete an online BBS methodology training program.
Number of Missouri Survey Routes - 80
Helps Canadian, American, and Mexican habitat managers track North American migratory bird populations and adjust management as needed
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Larry Archer
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber
Art Director - Cliff White
Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Circulation - Laura Scheuler