Now that you’ve adopted a Mountain Birdwatch route, you’re ready to start preparing for your June adventure! You’ll find everything you need below. (Don’t have a route yet? Then check out the How to Participate page.) If you’re new to Mountain Birdwatch, then you’ll want to peruse all of the materials listed below and give yourself plenty of time to start learning the birds and the protocols–April is a great time to kick things into high gear. Is this your first year doing Mountain Birdwatch (!) then please read this 10-point checklist.
TRAINING RESOURCES (including Zoom Q&A with Jason Hill)
- Review the the condensed version of the Mountain Birdwatch Training Manual for 2023 (it’s a great idea to take a copy of the condensed version with you into the field. There’s a longer, more in-depth Mountain Birdwatch Training Manual, but that’s probably more info that most of us need!
- Check out our entertaining spin on Mountain Birdwatch FAQs.
- Recommended: Attend one of our Zoom Online Mountain Birdwatch Q&A Sessions (every Wednesday 12-1 pm until June except for April 12th) – anyone is welcome to participate for any amount of time. Thinking about adopting a route, but want more information? Thinking about taking on a second route this season, but not sure you can do it? Just register HERE, and join me any time between 12 and 1 pm on Wednesdays until the end of May. I’ll tailor these sessions to the needs of folks who show up–no appointment necessary. If lunchtime on Wednesday doesn’t work for you, just send me an email (Jason Hill: ) and we’ll meet one-on-one via Zoom at a time of your convenience.
- Review the audio tracks and practice the bird song quiz (see expandable list below). Use the ID cheat sheet to help remember the vocalizations our 10 monitored bird species & red squirrel.
Audio Tracks & Bird Audio Quiz (Click the arrow to expand this section)
Check out these helpful narrated audio tracks (1-18) below. Once you’re ready, try a mock series of point counts–print out some datasheets and take the audio quiz (track 20) a few times and then look at the key (provided below). Don’t worry about estimating distance to the birds in this audio track–just practice filling out the datasheet and becoming more familiar with these species’ vocalizations. There are long stretches of silence in this audio track–that’s normal–just like what you’ll experience in the mountains in June!
- Track 1: Introduction
- Track 2: Bicknell’s Thrush
- Track 3: Swainson’s Thrush
- Track 4: Hermit Thrush
- Track 5: White-throated Sparrow
- Track 6: Fox Sparrow
- Track 7: Winter Wren
- Track 8: Blackpoll Warbler
- Track 9: Black-capped Chickadee
- Track 10: Boreal Chickadee
- Track 11: Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
- Track 12: Red Squirrel
- Track 13: Compare Bicknell’s Thrush, Veery
- Track 14: Compare Winter Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet
- Track 15: Compare Blackpoll Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler
- Track 16: Compare Blackpoll Warbler, Dark-eyed Junco
- Track 17: Compare Lincoln’s Sparrow, Fox Sparrow
- Track 18: Compare Least Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
- Here’s a simulated 20-minute point count audio file (click the black play bar). All of the vocalizations in this file were included in the above 18 tracks. If there’s a vocalization that you don’t recognize, then take a moment to re-listen to the above tracks. Once you’re feeling good about your bird ID ability–proceed to the quiz (tracks 19 and 20).
- Track 19: Instructions for the quiz (track 20)
- Track 20: Quiz and the Quiz Identification Key (no peeking until after you listen to Track 20!)
How did you do? Listen to the audio tracks as many times as needed until you have a good grasp on these species’ vocalizations. Then check out the protocol video, where we’ll walk you through a mock point count and fill out the data sheet together. Bird and squirrel vocalizations generously provided by the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
MATERIALS FOR YOUR SURVEY (take these with you!)
Print these materials to take with you in the field. It is a good idea to review these materials in the April and May to ensure that you are comfortable with them before go time.
- Condensed version of the Mountain Birdwatch manual for 2023.
- The route document for your adopted route(s). These documents tell you where the sampling stations are, how to find them, where to camp, where to park, etc.
- Blank datasheets: you’ll need a blank datasheet for each of the sampling stations on your route (your route has between 3 and 6 sampling stations, so you’ll need 3-6 copies), and just a single copy of the comment page for your route. You can put comments for all of the sampling stations on that single comment page.
AFTER YOUR SURVEY IS COMPLETE…
Congratulations! You have survived the black flies, arrived at your mountain route before the sun, located your survey stations, and maybe even heard a Bicknell’s Thrush or a Winter Wren. There are just a few more steps to complete your Mountain Birdwatch community scientist commitment.
- Notify the MBW director, Jason Hill, that your survey is complete– As soon as you complete your survey, please notify Jason ().
- Double-check your data–to ensure accurate tallies of each species at both distance classes. Please review while the experience is still fresh in your mind, which gives you the best chance of catching mistakes.
- Submit your data online–Our incredible colleagues at the Forest Ecosystem Monitoring Cooperative have made this experience as easy as tracking a moose in the snow. The database is incredibly intuitive, but check out the video tutorial (below) on how to enter your data online. Please enter your data online by July 15th so our interns have time to proof your data before they leave us in early August.
- Send in your data sheets–Option 1: make photocopies of your datasheets (for safe keeping) and mail the originals to Jason Hill at Vermont Center for Ecostudies, PO Box 420, Norwich, VT 05055. Option 2: Take high quality photos or make high quality scans and email them to Jason at . Please e/mail in your data by July 15th so that our seasonal interns can proof your data.
- Treat yourself to a maple creemee. Well done.
Check out the online data entry tutorial for a demonstration of entering survey data into the online database. A few tiny things have changed for 2022, but they will be quite obvious to you.