The North American Breeding Bird Survey Needs YOUR Help

Each spring over 2500 skilled amateur birders and professional biologists volunteer to participate in the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS).  Since 1965, these volunteers have contributed to one of the most widely used bird monitoring datasets in North America.  In 2009, the Midwest Coordinated Bird Monitoring Partnership began a campaign to fill all vacant BBS routes in our region.  Each year, the number of vacant routes has decreased, and I am confident that we will have a record year for filling routes in 2013.

To that end, I ask all of you to consider adopting a vacant route near you, adding a route if you already run one, and getting the word out to your friends and neighbors.  I plan on running five routes in the western half of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to do my part!

As of the first day of spring, we have 75 vacant routes in our region.  I have broken these out by state and provided a point of contact below:

Illinois: 5 Vacant Routes (contact Matt Mckim-louder; email:; phone: 660-441-7509)

Indiana: 12 Vacant Routes (contact John Castrale; email:; phone: 812-849-4586)

Iowa: 3 Vacant Routes (contact Doug Harr; email:; phone: 515-275-4818)

Michigan: 8 Vacant Routes (contact Katie Koch; email:; phone: 906-226-1249)

Minnesota: 9 Vacant Routes (contact Tony Hertzel; email:; phone: 763-780-7149)

Missouri: 30 Vacant Routes (contact Janet Haslerig; email:; phone: 573-522-4115 x3198)

Ohio: 8 Vacant Routes (contact Nathan Stricker; email:; phone: 740-747-2525 ext. 22)

Wisconsin: NO VACANT ROUTES (take a road trip to a BBS route in a neighboring state!)

Requirements for participation are listed below:

  1. Access to suitable transportation to complete a survey.
  2. Good hearing and eyesight.
  3. The ability to identify all breeding birds in the area by sight and sound. Knowledge of bird songs is extremely important, because most birds counted on these surveys are singing males.
  4. New BBS participants must also successfully complete the BBS Methodology Training Program before their data will be used in any BBS analyses. The training program is available from the national BBS offices and the state, provincial, and territorial coordinators.

Thank you for participating in this program and helping me get the word out.  It may be the first day of spring, but I have 50-60 inches of snow in my yard and great winter birds at the feeders.  BBS season will be here before I know it!

Katie Koch

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