Alaska Science Center
Beak Deformities Alert
North American Breeding Bird Survey
The North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) is the most widespread program for monitoring the continent's breeding bird populations. The program includes about 3,700 roadside routes, among which 2,750 are surveyed each year. Each route consists of 50 stops placed at 0.5-mile intervals along a 24.5-mile stretch of road. Routes are surveyed once a year by an observer who is familiar with the sight and song of birds in the region. At each of the 50 stops, the observer records the number of individuals of every species, either heard or seen, during a three-minute period; only birds detected with 0.25 mile of the road are counted. Surveys begin a half-hour before sunrise (no earlier than 2:30 am in Alaska) and are completed within 4-5 hours. Most routes in Alaska are surveyed between the second and fourth weeks of June. Because of differences in the skills of observers, the same observer is encouraged to survey the route for a number of years.
The initiation of the Partners in Flight program in Alaska increased interest in conducting BBS routes in the state. Coverage of routes in Alaska has more than doubled since 1992. Approximately 75 routes are surveyed annually in Alaska and more than 200 species have been recorded. In a typical year, observers count about 35,000 individual birds along BBS routes in the state. Data summaries and estimates of population trends are available for over 400 species on the BBS website, as well as a list of currently vacant BBS routes. For more information on the Alaska program contact:
The Alaska Landbird Monitoring Survey
Alaska provides breeding habitats for 135 species of landbirds, half of which breed predominantly north of the U.S.-Canada border. The road-based North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) provides some data on population trends in Alaska but most northern species are inadequately monitored because of a paucity of roads. Boreal Partners in Flight thus developed the Alaska Landbird Monitoring Survey (ALMS) to monitor breeding populations of landbirds in roadless areas in Alaska and complement data collected from the roadside BBS. The primary objectives of ALMS are to (1) monitor long-term population trends; (2) determine abundance by habitat; and (3) model distribution across Alaska. ALMS is a collaborative program whereby agencies participate by conducting standardized surveys of breeding birds and their habitats on their resource lands and contributing the data to the U.S. Geological Survey's Alaska Science Center for storage and analysis. ALMS and its pilot program have recorded >100,000 observations of birds across approximately 400 sites in Alaska. For more information about ALMS see The Alaska Landbird Monitoring Survey Web site.
Alaska Landbird Migration Monitoring
Populations of many landbirds travel along predictable corridors during migration to and from breeding areas each year. This behavior allows biologists to monitor yearly changes in adult population size and productivity. Migration monitoring generally involves a combination of banding and counting birds. During the spring or fall migration periods, intensive efforts must be maintained at the same frequency and in the same habitat across several years to be useful. Since weather can strongly influence migration behavior, it must also be accounted for when analyzing data to determine population trends. Effort at a typical fall migration station in Alaska entails capturing and banding birds from a set of 20-30 mist nets for six hours a day every day from late July till late September.
In Alaska, landbirds have been banded during spring or fall migration at up to 10 stations each year since 1992. Stations are operated in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Denali National Park, and Tok. For more information contact:
Christmas Bird Count
The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a hemisphere-wide effort coordinated by the National Audubon Society to monitor populations of birds on their wintering grounds. Each year volunteers count individuals of all species seen or heard within an established 15-mile-radius circle on a single day in late December or early January. Because the effort in counting varies each year, records are kept of the number of observers, parties working together, and party-hours and party-miles spent on foot or in cars. Nearly 40 count areas are surveyed each winter across Alaska. Each year the results are published in American Birds, and summaries can be found on the CBC website.