BIRD LOVERS: Volunteers needed to help with 2016 North American Breeding Bird Survey in June.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) needs volunteers to help with the 2016 North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) in June. MDC logo

The BBS is a long-term, large-scale, international bird monitoring program that started in 1966 to track the status and trends of North American bird populations.

Missouri survey routes in need of volunteers are in or around: Auburn, Cassville, Diamond, Dover, Elmo, Emden, Frankford, Kennett, Pineville, Pulaski, and Reeds.

“Bird populations have numerous widespread threats such as habitat loss and fragmentation, land-use changes, and chemical contaminants,” said MDC Resource Scientist Janet Haslerig. “If BBS survey data shows significant declines in certain areas and/or species, scientists can then work on identifying causes and conservationists can take action before populations reach critically low levels.”

Haslerig said volunteers need access to suitable transportation, good hearing and eyesight, and must be able to identify all birds in the area. All new BBS volunteers must complete on-line training. She also stressed that knowing bird songs is extremely important because most birds counted are singing males.

Each survey route is 24.5 miles long with stops at half-mile intervals. At each stop, volunteers conduct three-minute point counts where they record data on the bird species and numbers they see or hear within a quarter-mile radius.

Surveys start one-half hour before sunrise and take a maximum of about five hours. Volunteers conduct surveys on each route only one or two days during the annual survey time period.

To volunteer for the BBS, contact Haslerig by email at Janet.Haslerig@mdc.mo.gov or call (573) 522-4115, ext. 3198.

Haslerig also hopes volunteers will commit to multiple years of surveying the same routes.

“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!”

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