Your E-mail:
What's your bird's bathing style?


Printer Friendly

Counting Birds

Find out how scientists come up with a population consensus

By Rebecca Sweat

Counting birds is the first step in the conservation of speciesPart of saving a bird species from going extinct includes simply finding out how many are in the wild. But just how do scientists go about it? A typical parrot count goes like this:

A map of the bird’s habitat is divided up into a grid, and each field worker takes a point on the grid where he or she counts parrots. Ideally, each field worker is able to go to a high point, such as a treetop, cliff or mountaintop, to get a good view of the forest canopy. The best time to do the count is at dawn or dusk, when the parrots roost in trees rather than fly around.

“Every field worker will go to his place at the same designated time, and then just start counting the birds he sees,” explained Mark Stafford of Parrots International. “Everyone has their own notebook, and they’ll just start recording how many birds they see, when, what position and which direction they’re flying. Then at the end of the day, everybody gets together and compares notes. If one person saw a flock of six Lear’s macaws flying east of Ship Rock at 10:12, and someone else saw a flock of six Lear’s macaws flying west of Ship Rock at 10:20, then we know not to count those birds twice.”

Once duplicate sightings are identified, the rest of the sightings are added up to come up with a cumulative count. Sometimes it is very difficult, if not impossible, to count every bird — especially if the birds have a large range. In these situations, as with the red-fronted macaws of Bolivia, scientists might take annual counts of the number of nest sites.

“The red-fronted macaw is difficult to count because it moves together in large flocks over great distances,” noted James Gilardi, Ph.D., Director of The World Parrot Trust. “So if you see a big flock, you don’t know if it’s the same flock you saw the week before in a totally different part of the country.”

By knowing the number of nests, scientists have a good idea of how many adult birds there are and how many babies are being produced each year. This provides them with a fairly accurate estimate of what the possible rebound is for those birds, Gilardi said.

POSTED: March 7, 2007, 5 a.m. EST


 Give us your opinion on
Counting Birds

Submit a Comment or
Join Club
Earn 1,000 points! What's this?
Reader Comments
This is similar to the Project FeederWatch Program from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Deborah, Burlington, MA
Posted: 3/21/2011 8:42:22 PM
I love reading things like this. Great print. Keep it up
Sandy, Alexandria, OH
Posted: 2/25/2008 7:26:20 AM
iT is helpful to have at least an estimate of the numbers.
Elysha, Little Rock, AK
Posted: 3/16/2007 7:43:43 AM
Like any survey or count... they are estimates and this must be remembered.
Stephen, Plattbsurgh, NY
Posted: 3/7/2007 5:00:39 AM
View Current Comments
Top Products
d
BirdChannel Home | Bird Breeders | Bird Species | Related Links | BirdChannel Editors and Contributors
DOGS | CATS | FISH | HORSE | REPTILE | SMALL ANIMALS | HOBBY FARMS
                       | Birds USA |  
Disclaimer: The posts and threads recorded in our message boards do not reflect the opinions of nor are endorsed by I-5 Publishing, LLC nor any of its employees. We are not responsible for the content of these posts and threads.
Copyright ©  I-5 Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.
Our Privacy Policy has changed. Your California Privacy Right/Privacy Policy
Advertise With Us  |  SiteMap  |  Contact Us  |  Terms of Use  |  Community Guidelines | Bird eClub Terms
BirdChannel Newsletter Signup | Link to Us | About Us | More Great I-5 Sites
Gold Standard

*Content generated by our loyal visitors, which includes comments and club postings, is free of constraints from our editors’ red pens, and therefore not governed by I-5 Publishing, LLC’s Gold Standard Quality Content, but instead allowed to follow the free form expression necessary for quick, inspired and spontaneous communication.

Become a fan of BirdChannel on Facebook Follow BirdChannel on Twitter
Get social and connect with BirdChannel.



Hi my name's RaneBeau ('>

Visit the Photo Gallery to
cast your vote!
Information on over 200 critter species