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Breeding Bird Surveys

The Canadian Wildlife Service and Bird Studies Canada are looking for enthusiastic and skilled birders in British Columbia  and Ontario to participate in the Canadian Breeding Bird Survey (BBS).

Beginning in 1966, the BBS is now one of the oldest surveys of breeding birds in North America. It is conducted primarily by volunteers, who follow a predetermined, roadside route each year at the height of the breeding season. The resultant data are used to determine long-term population trends in North America's breeding birds, which may indicate bird species that are in decline and require conservation action or reveal long-term changes in land-use, environmental contaminants, or climate. Birds are extremely important indicators of the state of the environment! By learning about how the birds are faring through programs such as the BBS, not only can we monitor the health of their populations but we learn how we're faring as well.

It takes one day a year, during the month of June, to run a BBS route. BBS routes are 24.5 miles (39.4 km) long and consist of 50 three-minute stops, each 0.5 miles (0.8 km) apart. At each stop, volunteers record the total number of each bird species seen or heard within about 400 metres. Volunteers are encouraged to survey the same route for as many consecutive years as possible to maintain consistency of reporting. Currently, there are more than 3000 active BBS routes across North America! The BBS is jointly coordinated by the Canadian Wildlife Service, National Wildlife Research Centre and the U.S. Geological Survey Patuxent Wildlife Research Centre. BSC acts as the provincial coordinator in British Columbia and Ontario.

We need your help in BC and Ontario!

There are many routes in British Columbia and Ontario needing surveyors to maintain coverage across these provinces. These routes became inactive when long-term volunteers retired to take up other pursuits. Some of these routes are close to populated areas, while others are more out-of-the-way. We need your help with both, but if you have the opportunity, why not volunteer for a remote route? Data from such areas are indispensable!

To participate, you need to be able to quickly and accurately identify all the birds along your route by sight and sound, and you need to be committed to surveying your route at least for several consecutive years. If you are unsure of your birding skills, first try going along with an observer who already surveys a route in your area until you become familiar with local bird songs, or practise bird song identification by yourself for a few seasons.

If you participate in the BBS, The Canadian Wildlife Service will send you the annual newsletter, BBS Canada as well as regular reports on results of the survey data. It is exciting to think that each year, BBS data are used in scientific publications, theses and environmental impact assessments. Your contribution as a volunteer is invaluable!

To become a volunteer for the Canadian BBS contact in:

British Columbia
Dick Cannings
BBS BC Coordinator
1330 Debeck Road, S11, C96, RR 1
Naramata, BC V0H 1N0

Audrey Heagy,
BBS Ontario Coordinator
Bird Studies Canada,
P.O. Box 160, Port Rowan, ON N0E 1M0
1-888-448-BIRD Ext 166

For other regions of Canada


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