The North American Breeding Bird Survey Results and Analysis, 1966-2005Entry ID: PWRC_BBS2003
Abstract: The Breeding Bird Survey is a source of information about distributions and
population changes of North American birds. It is also a tool for learning
about birds, with with connections to the ID tips with pictures of common North
American birds and quizzes on bird distribution and identification.
The BBS is a large-scale survey of North American birds. It is a ... roadside
survey, primarily covering the continental United States and southern Canada,
although survey routes have recently been initiated in Alaska and northern
Mexico. The BBS was started in 1966, and the over 3,500 routes are surveyed in
June by experienced birders.
The primary objective of the BBS has been the estimation of population change
for songbirds. However, the data have many potential uses, and investigators
have used the data to address a variety of research and management objectives.
On the Home Page, we summarize results from the BBS, and supplement the results
with pictures of birds and other species information.
Data Set Citation
Dataset Originator/Creator: U.S. Geological Survey, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Dataset Title: The North American Breeding Bird Survey Results and Analysis, 1966-2002
Dataset Release Date: 2003
Dataset Release Place: Laurel, Maryland
Dataset Publisher: USGS, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Version: Version 2003.1.
Data Presentation Form: Graphic Images of MapsOnline Resource: http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bbs/
This description is a member of a collection. The collection is described in
Start Date: 1966-01-01Stop Date: 2002-01-01
Quality We welcome comments on the home page. We intend to improve it as new methods
for summary of survey data are developed, and in response to user feedback. We
caution that, as always in data analyses, the possibility exists for errors in
the analyses and summaries.
Concerning BBS ... routes: Arc/INFO software was used to create and maintain
topological relationships between features. The Arc/INFO command BUILD was run
to ensure the topological consistency of the data set. Each route was checked
for missing and dangling arcs, correct length, proper direction, and correct
This data set contains the Breeding Bird Survey Routes in the lower 48 States
which were considered active in 1998. This includes many of the routes added in
1998, though not all of them. The discontinued Breeding Bird Survey routes were
generally not digitized.
Concerning the routes: In the early years, the data set had 500-600 routes.
There are now more than 3000 routes. These routes are checked manually and
computer edits performed. However, when there were only 500 routes, this was
easier to accomplish. The computer performs edits for computational errors,
species range errors. Print outs are sent back to original observer to verify.
After experimental surveys were conducted in Maryland and Delaware in 1965, the
BBS has expanded to cover the continental United States and southern Canada.
The survey was initiated in different years in different parts of its range.
BBS routes were run only on routes in the United States east of the Mississippi
River and in Quebec and the maritime provinces of Canada in 1966. In 1967, the
BBS extended to the Central United States, with a few routes in Ontario and
Manitoba. By 1968, all of the continental United States was covered, and routes
were run across southern Canada. Routes in Alaska, Yukon, and Northwest
Territories were added during the early 1980s.
Many patterns occur in geographic coverage of the BBS. Some patterns occur as a
consequence of logistics. BBS routes near human population centers tend to be
consistently surveyed but remote routes are not surveyed every year, which
causes regional variation in the efficiency of the survey (Robbins et al.
1986). Although all States and Provinces vary in coverage over time, some
consistent regional patterns occur in BBS coverage. Coverage in the
Northeastern United States (excluding ME) is most extensive, with the highest
density of BBS routes (up to 16 per degree block of latitude and longitude)
occurring in MD, DE, and NJ (See also Table 1). Routes are much less densely
distributed elsewhere with maxima of 4-5 routes / degree block in a number of
states while NV and portions of some Canadian Provinces have a minimum of 1
route degree block. Route densities are less than 1 route / degree block only
in arctic and boreal regions. In Canada, the BBS is largely restricted to the
south, and our summary maps truncate the range of each species to indicate the
region with sufficient BBS data.
Superimposed on the regional variation in route densities is temporal variation
in the number of routes run in many states. Most states show a general pattern
of increasing routes over time. In some cases, this pattern is extreme, with
states such as ME having few routes until the early 1970's, when numbers
started to increase. Some states (e.g., UT) have had consistently low numbers
of routes over most of the survey period, while other states (VT, SC, SD) have
had periods when the number of routes decreased. For some States and Provinces
(e.g., Alaska, Yukon, PEI and NFD), the few years routes were run clearly
invalidates any trend analyses from the data.
Process: Analyses were conducted on a Sun workstation using FORTRAN programs.
Interactive programs allow users to define regions and conduct analyses. Please
note that abundance estimates from the trend portion of the program may not be
accurate for subintervals, and are only provided as a general measure of
Access Constraints None
Use Constraints None
Data Set Progress
Role: TECHNICAL CONTACT
Email: john_r_sauer at usgs.gov
Bird Breeding Survey Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Biological Resources Division U.S. Geological Survey 11510 American Holly Drive
Province or State: MD
Postal Code: 20708-4019
Sauer, J. R., and S. Droege, editors. 1990. Survey designs and statistical
methods for the estimation of avian population trends. U. S. Fish. Wildl.
Serv., Biol. Rept. 90(1).
Geissler, P. H., and J. R. Sauer. 1990. Topics in route regression analysis.
Pgs 54-57 in J. R. Sauer and S. Droege, eds. Survey designs and statistical
methods for the estimation of ... avian population trends. U. S. Fish. Wildl.
Serv., Biol. Rept. 90(1).
Sauer, J. R., and P. H. Geissler. 1990. Annual indices from route regression
analyses. Pgs 58-62 in J. R. Sauer and S. Droege, eds. Survey designs and
statistical methods for the estimation of avian population trends. U. S. Fish.
Wildl. Serv., Biol. Rept. 90(1).
Sauer, J. R., R. J. Barker, and P.H. Geissler. 1994. Statistical aspects of
modeling population change from population size data. Pages 451-466 in R. J.
Kendall and T. E. Lacher, Jr., eds., Wildlife toxicology and population
modeling: Integrated studies of agroecosystems CRC Press, Boca Raton, Fl.
Sauer, J. R., Peterjohn, B. G., and Link, W. A. 1994. Observer differences in
the North America Breeding Bird Survey. Auk 111:50-62.
Link, W. A., and J. R. Sauer. 1994. Estimating equations estimates of trends.
Bird Populations 2:23-32.
Link, W. A., and J. R. Sauer. 1995. Estimation of empirical mixing
distributions in summary analyses. Biometrics 51:810-821.
Sauer, J. R., G. W. Pendleton, and S. Orsillo. 1995. Mapping of bird
distributions from point count surveys. Pages 151?160 in C. J. Ralph, J. R.
Sauer, and S. Droege, eds. Monitoring Bird Populations by Point Counts, USDA
Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, General Technical Report
Link, W. A., and J. R. Sauer. 1996. Extremes in ecology: avoiding the
misleading effects of sampling variation in summary analyses. Ecology
Kendall, W. L., B. G. Peterjohn, and J. R. Sauer. 1996. First-time observer
effects in the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Auk 113:823-829.
Link, W. A., and J. R. Sauer. 1997. New Approaches to the Analysis of
Population Trends in Land Birds" A Comment on Statistical Methods. Ecology
Link, W. A., and J. R. Sauer. 1997. Estimation of population trajectories
from count data. Biometrics 53:63-72.
Link, W. A., and J. R. Sauer 1998. Estimating population change from count
data: application to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Ecological
Extended Metadata Properties
(Click to view more)
Creation and Review Dates
DIF Creation Date: 2003-05-27
Last DIF Revision Date: 2017-08-24
Future DIF Review Date: 2004-05-27