Like VCE’s Vermont Forest Bird Monitoring Program, this is a project for skilled birders. Volunteers must be able to identify a full suite of eastern forest bird species by sight and sound (including call notes). The rewards are solitude in remote forests, a dawn chorus and valuable data on forest bird populations.
In conducting these counts so close to dawn in dense woods, volunteers record most of the birds they encounter by ear rather than by eye. And because they work off trail, forest bird monitors must know how to navigate with map and compass or GPS. (Being fairly functional before dawn is also a prerequisite.)
Unlike FBMP routes, the NPS route runs during a single morning every June. Each survey begins between 5 and 5:30 AM, and takes between two and four hours (depending on the number of points surveyed). This does not include travel time to and from the park. Another 1-1.5 hours is required to transfer data from field forms onto data sheets, and to enter data into an online, web-based data entry system. Because this is a long-term monitoring program, we are most interested in participants who can make a multi-year commitment to the project.
Birders without these skills might want to consider VCE’s Mountain Birdwatch, which features a smaller suite of birds and extensive training materials for participants. Plus, in Mountain Birdwatch you’ll reach some of the region’s highest and most striking places.
Birders who can’t quite find the time for either project can still contribute valuable data on bird abundance and distribution. While birdwatching (even casually) here in the Green Mountain State, add your sightings to Vermont eBird. Or if you’re outside of Vermont, you can send your sightings to the national eBird site (which includes Vermont data). Thanks!