North American Breeding Bird Survey – Skilled Birders Needed!

By eBird Northwest Team May 10, 2018

As of the writing of this article, 26 Oregon survey routes are still available for the 2018 field season. Seven Idaho routes, 14 Washington routes, and 43 British Columbia routes also remain vacant. Image from

As the height of the nesting season rapidly approaches, volunteers are still needed for the annual North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS). There are unassigned routes throughout the Pacific Northwest that need to be taken on by volunteer citizen scientists.

Each spring, more than 2,500 skilled birders participate in the BBS, an influential, continental-scale bird monitoring program that began in 1966. The BBS is jointly coordinated by the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center and Environment Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service. The program’s volunteer-driven dataset has proven valuable for estimating population trends for more than 400 bird species and is coveted by scientists and natural resource managers alike.

BBS participants adopt specified roadside survey route(s) and collect data following a standard protocol. Each route is about 24.5 miles long and has 50 stops spaced a half-mile apart. Participants conduct a 3-minute point count at each stop, recording all birds seen or heard within 0.25 mile of the count location. Surveys begin before sunrise and take about 5 hours to complete.

Requirements for BBS participation include suitable transportation to complete a survey, good hearing and eyesight, and the ability to identify all breeding birds in the area by sight and sound (further details are available from the BBS website). A commitment to doing a route for at least 2 years is preferred.

If you can help, check out this map to find a vacant survey route near you and contact your state’s BBS coordinator.