Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Breeding Bird Survey
12100 Beech Forest Road
Laurel, MD 20708-4038

Memorandum to Cooperators


-- WEB PAGE NEWS - Participant Photos & Fact Sheet


Our thanks to everyone who participated in the 2000 BBS season! Both the U.S. and Canada had great participation this year. A total of 2856 routes have been returned so far, as compared to 2821 at this time last year representing a 1.2 percent increase in returns! A total of 2424 U.S. routes were run representing a 1.1 increase, while in Canada 432 routes were sampled representing a 1.9 percent increase in coverage over last year. Kansas experienced the greatest increase in coverage (84.4%) of any state, province or territory during this two-year period thanks to the efforts of William Busby, the state coordinator, who added and filled 27 new routes.

3000 IN 2000 OR BUST! -- At 2856 routes, we did not make our goal of 3000 routes in 2000, as of now. But similar to the 2000 presidential race, it is still too early to make an official determination since we have "absentee" routes to count. Since last year's memo, an additional 120 routes from 1999 have been returned, raising the final 1999 total to 2941 routes. So we expect about that many late 2000 routes to be returned over the next 10 to 12 months as well, which would bring the 2000 total tantalizingly close to 3000. But even if we do not make 3000 routes, everyone made a great effort this past year; thank you and let's keep it up!

On a related topic, if you ran a BBS route in 2000 and sent in your results, but did not receive a summary report or email message confirming receipt by our office, please let us know. It is possible that we never received your data. Also please remember to check the final data reports that the BBS office provides and notify us of your findings, even when there are no errors to report.

1999-2000 Coverage Summary

# of Routes # of Routes
State/Prov. 1999 2000 Percent Change State/Prov. 1999 2000 Percent Change
AL 70 82 17.1 NB 17 19 11.8
AK 63 72 14.3 NF 8 5 -37.5
AB 83 84 1.2 NH 19 21 10.5
AZ 44 40 -9.1 NJ 15 19 26.7
AR 33 32 -3.0 NM 59 60 1.7
BC 67 66 -1.5 NY 79 71 -10.1
CA 123 125 1.6 NC 57 61 7.0
CO 113 100 -11.5 ND 35 38 8.6
CT 10 9 -10.0 NS 29 22 -24.1
DE 7 9 28.6 OH 54 57 5.6
FL 77 78 1.3 OK 45 44 -2.2
GA 36 33 -8.3 ON 83 78 -6.0
ID 45 43 -4.4 OR 83 80 -3.6
IL 82 80 -2.4 PA 78 81 3.8
IN 43 51 18.6 PR 7 6 -14.3
IA 25 25 0.0 PEI 0 3 ------
KS 32 59 84.4 PQ 55 56 1.8
KY 29 29 0.0 RI 1 1 0.0
LA 49 48 -2.0 SK 28 32 14.3
NWT 5 5 0.0 SC 26 28 7.7
ME 39 35 -10.3 SD 43 43 0.0
MB 38 46 21.1 TN 35 35 0.0
MD 53 53 0.0 TX 126 114 -9.5
MA 18 17 -5.6 UT 75 71 -5.3
MI 36 44 22.2 VT 20 16 -20.0
MN 52 47 -9.6 VA 53 57 7.5
MS 21 21 0.0 WA 69 64 -7.2
MO 37 36 -2.7 WV 33 38 15.2
MT 43 57 32.6 WI 86 77 -10.5
NE 30 32 6.7 WY 67 62 -7.5
NV 22 23 4.5 YT 11 16 45.5
Canada 424 432 1.9
U.S. 2397 2424 1.1
Total 2821 2856 1.2

300 New Routes by 2000 -- We did achieve our second goal, set in 1997, of adding 300 U.S. routes before the end of year 2000. Since then, we have added 323 new BBS routes. As usual, the kudos go to the individuals who agreed to take on the burden of recruiting observers for the new routes -- the state coordinators. The following 14 individuals were instrumental in achieving this goal over the last 3 years: Bill Busby (KS), John Castrale & Ed Hopkins (IN), Dennis Forsythe (SC), Steve Hedges (UT), Mark Johns (NC), Hugh Kingery (CO), Vern Kleen (IL), Gary Lester (LA), Bob McKernan & Kevin Hunting (CA), Darryl Tessen (WI), Judy Walker (ME), and Paul Zeph (IA).

If you are running a new route this year, please note that the highlighted route path is only a guide and often extends beyond the standard route length of 24.5 miles. Use your car odometer to determine the actual end of the route which may fall short of the highlighted portion.


There have been several changes among the state coordinators this year. In Virginia, John Mehner has retired from the position of state coordinator and has passed those duties on to Rick Reynolds and Lisa Sausville. To the far north, Brad Andres is relinquishing his position as the Alaska BBS coordinator; we hope to name a replacement before the end of the year. Although Brad is leaving the BBS coordinator fold and moving to Virginia, his avian conservation crusade will continue in his new position: National Shorebird Coordinator. Our sincere thanks to John and Brad for the great jobs they have done for the BBS in Virginia and Alaska over the years and best wishes for the future! Additionally, Paul Zeph has graciously agreed to coordinate BBS activities in Iowa. Please join us in welcoming Rick, Lisa, and Paul to the BBS flock this year. We are very grateful that they have taken on this additional role and look forward to working with them in the future.

For those of you in Illinois, please note the state coordinator's new address; Vern Kleen can now be reached at: 1825 Clearview Drive, Springfield, IL 62704-6428; tel.: 217-787-3515; Contact information for the new state coordinators is listed below:

Rick Reynolds
Dept. of Game & Inland Fisheries
P.O. Box 996
Verona, VA 24482
Tel: 540-248-9386

Virginia Lisa Sausville
Dept. of Game & Inland Fisheries
1320 Belman Road
Fredricksburg, VA 22401
Tel: 540-899-4169

Paul Zeph
Iowa Audubon
PO Box 71174
Des Moines, IA 50325
Tel: 515-267-0701

State coordinators are the oil that keep the BBS machinery running smoothly at the local level, often with little or no compensation besides the occasional pat on the back and the satisfaction that comes with doing a good job. Please join me this year in saying to every local coordinator, "Thanks for caring and for doing a great job!"

Current state coordinator contact information is always available on the BBS web page via the "Contact Us" link.

California Co-coordinator needed -- We are looking for a motivated individual(s) to assist Bob McKernan with California BBS coordination activities. Traditionally, this co-coordinator position had been filled by a Department of Fish and Game employee. But since Kevin Hunting left the Sacramento office over a year ago no candidate has been forthcoming, so we are opening up the position to a wider audience. The co-coordinator would be primarily responsible for finding qualified participants to sample BBS routes in the northern portion of the state. Preferred candidates are knowledgeable in bird identification, familiar with the BBS program, have superior networking skills, and physically located within the northern half of the state (north of San Jose). We would also be willing to discuss dividing the state into thirds and enlisting two new co-coordinators. If interested, please contact Keith Pardieck (tel: 301-497-5843; email:


In April 1999, a Peer Review Panel was commissioned by the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center to review the scientific and operational aspects of the U.S. Breeding Bird Survey. The Panel's report, consisting of 31 recommendations, was received in February 2000. The review report along with Patuxent's implementation plan addressing each of the recommendations are available on the web at:


In partial response to the BBS Peer Review, the U.S. BBS office hosted the first meeting ever for BBS coordinators at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, MD on 22 - 24 August 2000 to discuss issues regarding participant recruitment, retention, and training. The meeting was a great success! Thirty individuals attended representing 23 states and provinces. Also represented were the U.S. and Canadian national BBS offices, a regional Canadian Wildlife Service office, and the American Birding Association. Marshall Howe, the Chief of Monitoring Programs at Patuxent, and Chan Robbins, the progenitor of the BBS, also made brief appearances. An abbreviated summary of the meeting is provided below.

Observer Outreach and Recruitment -- Recruitment focused primarily on attracting currently qualified birders. However, some coordinators felt that a shortage of qualified participants in their area of responsibility was a major issue. Thus, it was recognized that the following measures are also needed to make young or inexperienced birders aware of the BBS program so that there is a volunteer pool in the future to draw upon.

1. Develop and provide local coordinators with the following items to assist with outreach and recruitment activities. Products A-C should emphasize importance of BBS for bird conservation.
A) BBS brochure,
B) BBS fact sheet,
C) Power Point/slide presentation,
D) State coordinator manual.

2. Increase public profile of the BBS and generate continued interest among current participants by:
A. Periodically publishing BBS related bird articles in more popular birding magazines such as, Birding.
B. Provide generic articles to local coordinators that can be tailored to their region and then sent to participants and listserves, or published in state bird journals or newsletters.
C. Publish the BBS accomplishments of participants in appropriate state wildlife Magazines, newsletters, etc.
D. Publish or post the results of surveys in appropriate local journals, newsletters, etc.
E. Give broader recognition to volunteers by listing names or pictures in national

magazines like Audubon magazine.

Observer Training -- Participants agreed that training of novice birders to the skill levels needed for BBS participation is outside the scope of the BBS program. We agreed to do the following:

1. Develop a training program primarily for new observers, CD-ROM or web-based, to supplement written instructions and increase consistency of data collection between observers and within observers. Emphasis for current observers would be on maintaining consistency with their current sampling practices. It would cover point count methodology and BBS methodology specifically.

2. Further investigate ways of partnering with established conservation groups, state agencies, etc. with the goal of having them incorporate BBS methodology training as part of their established field sampling/point count training seminars. BBS office would develop BBS training syllabus and distribute to groups.


With the completion of the 2000 BBS season 107 participants have earned the following BBS awards:

10-year BBS lapel pin --

Jerry Amerson, John Andre, David Bailey, Bruce Baker, Gene Bauer, Paul Bedell, Frank Blomquist, Bruce Bozdos, Lysle Brinker, Jeff Buecking, Andrea Cerovski, Richard Clements, William Cook, Nancy Cox, Curt Dusthimer, Frank Engstrom, Elmer Finck, Steven Ford, Sheryl Forte, Marian Frobe, George Gavutis, Jr., Bruce Glick, Gregory Grove, Richard Hallowell, Dolores Harrington, Paul Hart, Thomas Hays, Dorothy Hester, William Igo, Joey Kellner, Loice Kendrick, Charles Kennedy, Michael Ketchen, Tom Kogut, James Kovanda, Jr., Lisa Langelier, Gary Lester, Forrest Luke, Guy Luneau, Jeff Mackay, Andy Mason, Cynthia Mckee, Keith Merkel, Christian Michelson, Ted Nichols, Daniel Osborn, Glenn Ousset, John Parmeter, Barbara Peck, Wayne Petersen, Dwain Prellwitz, Mike Rader, Jack Rauenhorst, Susan Reel, Howard Sands, Phyllis Smeeth, Ronald Smith, Steve Stachowiak, Barbara Stedman, Mark Stensaas, Richard Stuart, Walter Sumner, Jerry Talkington, William Vermillion, Judith Whitcomb, Mary Yemington, Chuck Yohn, John York, and Ruth Young.

20-year BBS key chain --

Delano Arvin, Douglas Bassett, Mary Batcheller, James Baughman, Gordon Berkey, Glen Bernhardt, Wilson Cady, Priscilla Dauble, Richard Dolbeer, Allen Hale, Fran Jepperson, Gail Kirch, Dan Lashelle, Nelson Moore, Helen Ogren, Stephen Oliveri, Mark Peterson, Susan Richmond, and Paul Sykes.

30-year BBS cap --

Raymond Adams, Robert Grimm, James Hampson, Wendell Kingsolver, Lowell Mcewen, Sebastian Patti, and James Peavy.

50 Routes (Birds of North America Golden field guide, autographed by Chandler S. Robbins) --

Linda Alverson, Robert Chapel, John Demarrais, Dennis Forsythe, Ron Gerstenberg, James Hampson, Edward Hollowed, Gary Ivey, Timothy Manolis, Michael Prather, James Snowden, and Jerry Smith.

Congratulations to all recipients and thank you again for your commitment to the BBS!


The BBS needs slides or color photos of you, your BBS route, and birds. Some will be posted on the BBS web site (See the BBS Web Page section of this memo.), and others used in presentations or publications. Once submitted the slides become the property of the BBS and may be used on the Internet or in government publications. No monetary compensation will be provided if the slides are used, but we will happily credit the photographer. Clearly print the photographer's name, location of the scene, and date on the slide border or reverse side of the photo. Also include the names of any people depicted in the picture if different from the photographer. Thanks for your help!


New additions -- Since last year we've added a Participant Photo Gallery and a BBS Fact Sheet. Our thanks to Elizabeth Allen (NE) and Vera Ralston (TX) for providing slides of their routes. They provided some great views, so if you want to see what it is like to run a BBS route in parts of Nebraska or Texas check it out by clicking on the "BBS News" link. The BBS Fact Sheet is a one page flyer highlighting the accomplishments of the BBS program. Hard copies of the Fact Sheet will be provided to all the state coordinators to assist in their recruiting activities. Copies can also be obtained via the web ( or from the BBS office.

Route summary reports -- If you're surveying a route for the first time and want to see what birds have been counted on the route before, you can print a route summary report via the web. These reports are available via the "Download Raw Data" ( link on the BBS web page. Once at the site choose the "Species Totals" link.

BBS listserv -- If you wish to communicate with other BBSers from around the country about your BBS experiences, remember that you can now do so via email. To subscribe go to the "Contact Us" link on the BBS home page and then select the "BBStalk" link, or subscribe directly through email by sending a blank message to:


-- B. G. Peterjohn, J. R. Sauer, and S. Schwarz. 2000. Temporal and geographic patterns in population trends of Brown-headed Cowbirds. Pp. 21-34 in Ecology and management of cowbirds and their hosts: studies in the conservation of North American passerine birds (J.N.M. Smith, T.L. Cook, S.I. Rothstein, S.K. Robinson, and S.G. Sealy, eds.). University of Texas Press, Austin.

Copies of this article are available through the BBS office.


It is not often that participating in the BBS leads to a first state nesting record for a species, but for Brenda Zaun it did just that! Brenda conducts the Cibola, AZ BBS route and has this exciting tale to share. Brenda writes, "On my very first stop, I heard what seemed to be hundreds of birds calling, a call that I was unfamiliar with. I could tell it was coming from Cibola Lake but due to thick vegetation I couldn't see the lake from my vantage point. Curiosity got the best of me, and I deviated from my route momentarily (after my three minutes of counting) to reach higher ground where I could view the lake and hopefully see the source of this cacophony of calls. I saw several hundred White-faced Ibis roosting (or so I thought) among a bulrush island. The following week I took a boat out onto the lake and discovered that they weren't merely roosting in the bulrush, but there was a nesting colony of over 100 nests on this island, the first documented nesting of this species in the state." Congratulations Brenda!

William Reid, who conducts three routes in Pennsylvania, relates how he got involved with the BBS. As was probably the case for many during the early years of the BBS, William didn't even know that there was any such thing as a BBS route until two days before he ran his first route in 1967. William writes -- I picked up the map from a friend on June 29th, got up early enough on June 30, 1967 to find the starting point in an unfamiliar part of the state, and started the route on time. I made a couple of wrong turns that I had to correct, and finished the route around 11 a.m. Little did I realize at that point, what a wonderful facet of birding had started to unfold -- and it has been fun ever since!

Amusing mishaps and encounters -- This was the first, and last, year Andrea Cerovski attempts to conduct her Yellowpine, ID BBS route without two spare tires. After changing her first flat tire, Andrea soon discovered that a second tire was well on its way south. She managed to limp into Yellowpine late in the evening, but all 27 residents were celebrating the onset of the weekend, so no tire could be fixed. The next morning Andrea learned a lot about local bird conservation from residents while she waited for the fellow who could fix her tires to appear. As with any self-respecting community, they were proud of their birds -- especially the California Quail, which they indicated had been relocated to their valley from a major metropolitan area in southern Idaho because a developer had decided that they would not survive impending urbanization. Unfortunately, hawks had been feasting on their quail flock, so the residents were organizing a hawk shoot to protect the quail!?! They even had Wild Turkeys for a time, until the guy appointed to look after their welfare during the deep snows of winter, got hungry and ate them. . . You get the picture, we won't go on.

Can an itch interrupt a BBS route? W.R. Peeples and William Peeples found out that it can, if the itch belongs to a half-ton steer. At stop 4 along the Pawpaw, TN BBS route, they spied a large steer ambling down the road directly towards them. As the steer came closer, W.R. retreated back into the car to complete the count hoping the steer would pass on by. But the steer could not be ignored so easily, so when it began rubbing against the side of the car and back bumper, they decided it was probably time to move on before permanent damage ensued.

George Gavutis, Jr. and Sandra Gavutis had this close encounter while conducting the Milan, NH BBS route. After having just passed a known dangerous moose crossing area in the roadway (as evidenced by the numerous skid marks on the roadway and their previous sightings there), they felt it safe to relax their vigilance just a little bit and glanced up at the brightening sky to ascertain the percent cloud cover. Just then, Sandra yelled and George turned his head to the left just in time to see the face of a large cow moose inches above the driver's side window. They braced for an impact that thankfully never came since the moose miraculously was able to pull back and retreat, only slightly thumping the side door of the car. A bit of mud on the car door was the only evidence of the encounter when they stopped to check for damage.

Non-avian animal sightings -- Out of Africa, not to be confused with the book, two zebras gamboling in a pen near stop 17 surprised Susan Ferguson while conducting the Brownsville, TN route. While in Florida, Ron Smith had the pleasure of seeing an adult River Otter with four pups when they crossed the road not 10 yards from stop 13 on the Myakka Head BBS route. Across the country on the Yakima, WA BBS route, Tom Aversa was treated to the sight of four Big Horn Sheep smashing horns on the cliff faces. Finally in Wyoming, Bob South, Jim Gaither, and Chris Micholeson saw 230 American Bison, 15 Pronghorn Antelope, 3 Mule Deer, and 2 Big Horn Sheep while conducting the Moose, WY route.


Do you have BBS data from previous years that was never sent in? Remember, it is never too late. Whether it is 1 or 25 years old, we can still use it. While we don't wish to promote late data submission, don't throw it out just because it's a year or two old. Send it to us.


Besides the thousands of you in the field, I would also like to thank Brennan Bouma, Ty Livieri and Tracey Lurz for their outstanding help at the BBS office during the 2000 season. They assisted with numerous tasks that kept the data moving through the office in a timely manner.

Good luck & good birding in 2001!

Keith Pardieck