The goal for 1995 is to break the barrier of 3000 completed surveys.
Beginning in 1993, the BBS initiated a policy of sending only a single summary sheet for each route. This policy was designed to save time and money for the BBS, as the vast majority of our volunteers use copy machines to make the necessary copies of their data for their files.
For those volunteers who do not have ready access to copy machines and
need a second copy of the summary sheet, please let us know and we will
gladly send you additional copies of these forms.
1993-1994 COVERAGE SUMMARY
State 1992 1993 1994
AL 51 68 65
AK 34 67 76
AB 68 66 82
AZ 48 55 47
AR 27 31 32
BC 42 55 56
CA 112 123 136
CO 77 79 80
CT 14 13 13
DE 8 9 9
FL 68 76 81
GA 56 52 56
ID 43 48 52
IL 62 78 79
IN 40 38 36
IA 30 25 22
KS 31 36 35
KY 30 30 27
LA 37 30 29
NWT 6 2 0
ME 42 48 49
MB 29 31 31
MD 54 52 55
MS 19 20 21
MEXICO -- 26 28
MI 64 71 71
MN 41 64 61
MS 19 20 18
MO 36 30 43
MT 47 49 55
NE 29 34 31
NV 18 25 23
NB 12 15 13
NF 1 3 2
NH 21 23 23
NJ 23 25 26
NM 49 53 60
NY 87 83 82
NC 34 35 52
ND 41 35 34
NS 14 15 17
OH 60 66 62
OK 50 51 57
ON 69 65 89
OR 67 90 97
PA 84 90 89
PEI 3 4 2
PQ 38 46 47
RI 4 3 1
SK 31 29 28
SC 20 18 12
SD 32 33 34
TN 38 36 37
TX 84 91 131
UT 49 58 53
VT 21 22 19
VA 54 55 56
WA 54 69 74
WV 28 41 38
WI 65 64 70
WY 74 77 79
YK 16 14 16
PARKS 13 11 10
Since our last bulletin, the BBS has become a part of the National Biological Service (formerly National Biological Survey), an agency within the Department of the Interior. The BBS is becoming an integral part of this new agency, whose mission is to provide the scientific understanding and technologies needed to support the sound management and conservation of our nation's biological resources.
NEW PHONE NUMBERS
In December 1993, a new phone system was installed at Patuxent, producing changes in all of the phone numbers on the research center. Our new phone numbers are:
Our mailing address remains unchanged at:
BBS ON INTERNET
The BBS has recently created its own home page on the internet. This home page contains general information about the survey as well as a fairly complete summary of the most recent trend analyses. For most species, the information includes relative abundance and trend maps based on BBS data, and the state/provincial, physiographic strata, and regional trend estimates. All of these data can be transferred directly to your PC. Other information may be added to the home page as it becomes available.
For those with access to the internet, the address for the BBS home page is:
During 1994, a computer program summarizing the BBS trend analyses was prepared through the efforts of Jim Hines, John Sauer, Sandra Orsillo, and Bruce Peterjohn. This program provides trend information for approximately 400 species of birds, including relative abundance maps (see the two examples included in this bulletin), trend maps, and regional/state/strata trend estimates and annual indices for each species. Some general information on the BBS and how these data were analyzed are also included in the program.
This BBS computer program requires approximately 30 megabytes of memory, and is only available on CD-ROM. We are in the process of updating this program with the analyses through 1994, which will hopefully be completed by summer. If you have a CD reader and sufficient memory on a DOS system hard drive, we can make the program available to you. Please contact Bruce Peterjohn at the phone number listed above to make the arrangements. Since we currently have a limited number of CDs containing this program, it may take a while to meet all of the requests. Your patience will be appreciated.
Many of you probably saw the article about the BBS that appeared in
the December, 1994 issue of Birding magazine. If you did not see
this article and would like a copy, please contact the BBS office.
We have also been very active on other fronts. The BBS participated in the North American Research Workshop on the Ecology and Management of Cowbirds, held in Austin, Texas on Nov. 4-5, 1993. A paper describing temporal and geographic patterns in cowbird population trends by Peterjohn, John Sauer, and Sandra Orsillo was presented at the workshop, and a manuscript with a similar title has been submitted for the workshop proceedings.
BBS-related publications that appeared in print during 1994 include:
--Observer differences in the North American Breeding Bird Survey (Auk 111:50-62).
--Within-site variability in surveys of wildlife populations (Ecology 75:1097-1108).
--Population trends of woodland birds from the North American Breeding Bird Survey (Wildlife Soc. Bull. 22:155-164).
--Population status and trends of grouse and prairie-chickens from the North American Breeding Bird Survey and Christmas Bird Count (Trans. 59th N. Am. Wildl. & Natur. Resour. Conf.:439-448).
--Mourning Dove population trend estimates from call-count and North American Breeding Bird Surveys (Jour. Wildlife Management 58:506-515).
Copies of any of these articles can be obtained from the BBS office.
U.S. BBS NEWS
As usual, there have been a few changes in the list of state/provincial coordinators since the previous newsletter. The new Tennessee coordinator is Charles Nicholson (TVA, Div. Land & Forest Res., Norris, TN 37828; ph. (615) 632-1590). With the death of Burt Monroe Jr., Brainard Palmer-Ball, Jr. has become the sole coordinator for Kentucky. In Pennsylvania, Dan Brauning (RR2, Box 484, Montgomery, PA 17752; ph. (717) 547-6938) has agreed to share coordination duties with Paul Schwalbe.
In California, Bruce Deuel has relinquished his role as coordinator for the northern portion of the state, and has been replaced by Lyann Comrack (California Dept. Fish & Game, Wildlife Management Div., 1416 Ninth St., Sacramento, CA 95814; ph. (916) 657-4436). In Wisconsin, Sam Robbins has passed the role of state coordinator to Darryl Tessen (3118 N. Oneida St., Appleton, WI 54911;ph. (414) 735-9903). Sam had coordinated the program since its inception in 1966. In his honor, the Wisconsin observers made a concerted effort to achieve 100% coverage during 1994, the first time all 70 routes had been surveyed within a single year. Congratulations to Sam, and to the Wisconsin observers.
The BBS Honor Roll continues to grow, with at least 49 observers conducting five or more surveys in 1993 or 1994. Dave Holmes (DE, MD, PA) continues to lead this list with 15 surveys, although Steve Stedman has climbed into a close second place with 14 surveys (TN, KY, WV). Other volunteers conducting eight or more surveys include Brad Andres (AK), Sandy Williams (NM), Vern Kleen (IL), Sebastian Patti (IN, IL, MO, MI), Richard Peterson (SD), and John White (FL). An additional 50 people conduct 5-7 surveys annually. Our heartfelt thanks to all of these people who are deeply committed to the BBS, and to everyone conducting surveys during 1993 and 1994.
BIRD SONG TAPES PREPARED
The BBS contracted with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to prepare bird song tapes for two regions: Upper Great Lakes (portions of Ontario, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and adjacent areas) and Lower Great Lakes (from Illinois to western Pennsylvania and south to West Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri). Our intention is to develop a series of region-specific tapes that can be used by prospective participants to learn the necessary bird songs in order to conduct surveys and to serve as an annual refresher for volunteers already conducting surveys. For people interested in obtaining a copy of one of these tapes, please contact the BBS office.
We hope to produce similar tapes for all regions of North America as resources allow. Similar tapes have been produced for Canada (see below); some of these tapes may be useful for adjacent portions of the US. US observers should contact the US BBS office concerning the availability of the Canadian tapes. We will keep you informed as other tapes become available.
NEWS FROM CANADA
The Canadian Wildlife Service BBS Coordinator, Connie Downes, was on French language training which complicated the processing of the 1993 Canadian data. We apologize for delays in providing the observers with their printouts, and will try to ensure that these delays are not repeated in the future.
Connie paid a visit to the BBS offices at Patuxent during May 1993. During this visit, Connie agreed to assume most day-to-day coordination responsibilities for the program in Canada. All Canadian route assignments are being handled by her office, as are all mailings to the Canadian volunteers. She also has a complete set of the Canadian BBS data and route maps, and can make the data available upon request. (However, only the BBS office at Patuxent has both the U.S. and Canadian data sets, so people requiring data from both countries should contact Bruce Peterjohn.) Connie's efforts in promoting the BBS in Canada have already paid off, as evidenced by the increased coverage in 1993-1994.
The CWS has contracted to produce regional bird song training material
for the entire country. In addition to the two Great Lakes tapes
described above, tapes have been prepared for the Maritime Provinces, the
grassland communities of the Prairie Provinces, Yukon and northern B.C.,
southern B.C., and the boreal forest/northern parkland communities.
BBS RECOGNIZED IN IDAHO
Susan Weller, the Idaho BBS coordinator, informed us that BBS participants in Idaho were recognized during the migratory bird day activities on May 8, 1993. Cecil Andrus, the governor of Idaho, signed a proclamation commemorating the event, and sent letters of appreciation to all BBS volunteers.
STORIES FROM THE FIELD
We want to start with a correction for the 1993 newsletter. The rare warbler reported on the Fish Rock, CA BBS route by Benjamin Parmeter in 1992 was a Black-and-white Warbler, not a Blue-winged Warbler. The error was ours, and we apologize this mistake.
Torrential rain, excessive wind, and cold weather in the midwest created difficult conditions for even the most dedicated BBS volunteer in 1993. A number of observers tried to conduct surveys on 5 or more mornings, only to abandon their attempts due to unsuitable weather conditions. Even when the surveys could be conducted, the conditions were less than favorable. Lee Pfannmuller mentioned having to warm her hands with the car defroster between stops on the Floodwood, MN (appropriately named for that year) route. Gene Bauer described a most impressive thunderstorm as he camped out between BBS routes in Minnesota, including a bolt of lightning striking his car and causing sparks to fly out of his defroster.
While attempting to conduct the Amherst, CO survey, Bill Prather tried to cross a stream that appeared to be on 6-8 inches deep, but proved to be much deeper. His car stalled out in the deep water, and he was stranded for 3.5 hours waiting for the waters to recede and the engine to dry out. During that period, he was entertained by large numbers of Plains Spadefoots and Great Plains Toads swimming around his car, producing a deafening chorus.
Other observers could only briefly appreciate the various wildlife present along their routes. On her four routes in Idaho, Colleen Sweeney had to pass on photographic opportunities of a bull moose in a pond, elk cows and their newborn calves in a montane meadow, and various birds, amphibians, and other wildlife. Those of us conducting surveys in more developed regions where the major distractions consist of an endless array of barking dogs, blaring stereos, and constant traffic can only be envious.
Car problems presented difficulties for a few observers. On the way to one of his Wisconsin BBS routes, Noel Cutright noticed his temperature gauge in the red and discovered a missing radiator cap. Instead of his usual 4 AM breakfast, he had to fill the radiator and carry enough water to make it through the route. Only after finishing the route and buying a radiator cap, was he able to enjoy breakfast.
Tire problems caused Mike Austin to slightly delay the start of the
Danbury, TX route and produced an unfortunate encounter with a fire ant
colony. Brent Ortego also experienced tire problems on a Texas route,
forcing a 2 mile hike and other difficulties trying to purchase a new tire
on a Saturday evening in rural Texas. He solved the problem by buying
a new truck after returning home.
Fred Ramsey was not very sympathetic with a noisy camping neighbor who woke him up at 3:15 AM wanting to come out of the cold and rain. He also mentioned problems with warblers mimicking other species songs along his Camp Sherman, OR route. Hermit and Townsend's warblers have caused problems for years, but in 1993, a Nashville imitating the song of a MacGillivray's caused additional complications. Are other observers experiencing similar problems?
Vicki Saab experienced an unique problem along the Cabarton, ID route where thousands of sheep were being herded past 4 stops. The image of a birder trying to count birds while surrounded by sheep and Peruvian sheep herders sounds like a scene from a Monte Python movie. Margaret Higbee has a similar problem along the Kittanning, PA route, where the first stop is located opposite a game cock farm. The 75+ crowing roosters drown out most bird song at that stop.
Leaving on a positive note, John Confer was struggling with an unfamiliar
bird song along his Pulaski, NY route. Suddenly, nearby Red-winged
Blackbirds gave their predator alarm calls, and he looked up to see a Northern
Goshawk chasing a Red-winged around a tree. As they disappeared,
a Sedge Wren popped up in front of him, resolving the mysterious bird song
and providing a noteworthy record for this declining species in New York.
We hope everyone has similar experiences in 1995, on nice warm, sunny,