BBS Results – 5 Thoughts

Having completed and compiled the data on my first two BBS (Breeding Bird Survey) Routes I have come up with a few observations.  Not scientific or statistically proved. Just what seems to fit the BBS results.

But first to set the background a map of the approximate locations of the two BBS routes.

BBS Routes BBS Results

As you can see the routes are through rural agriculture land in east-central Indiana.


  1. The BBS Results seem to point to the total number of birds and species haven’t changed, just the mix.

    I really can’t see any difference in the total number of birds seen on either route. But some species have increased and others decreased, basically leaving a net zero sum.

    I was one short of the max number of species on both routes. That is probably due to the fact I have better hearing which helps on this type of count.

  2. Modern farming and the loss of livestock raising has led to less grassland birds than 50 years ago

    No surprise here. The impact from modern farming methods and lack of livestock raising has greatly impacted species like Northern Bobwhite, Savannah Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Grassland Sparrow, and Eastern Meadowlark. And the loss of hedgerows greatly decreased Great Crested Flycatchers and Northern Flickers.

  3. On the flip side modern farming has led to an increase in some species

    Certain species such as Killdeer, Horned Lark, and Common Grackle seem to prosper in fields with no hedgerows.

  4. The increase in new, rural houses with large sprawling yards have made an impact.

    Home ownership might be good for the economy but large rural houses with spiraling yards probably aren’t good for birds. Besides taking away from habitat, almost every new house had Chipping Sparrows and House Finches in their Bradford Pear Trees. The Chipping Sparrows  were barely represented and the House Finches weren’t even present on the surveys 50 years ago.  I have already made my thoughts on this topic here.

  5. Not sure why but the number of Wood Thrushes has increased the last few years on both counts.

    What woods that are left are small patches of woods, not hedgerows.  It seemed like there was a Wood Thrush in every small woods on each route. Maybe Wood Thrushes are a more adaptive species and make do with what is here? And this is surprising since Wood Thrush are on the IUCN Red List as Near Threatened.

So there are my observations from running the routes. My main take away is that as the landscape changes and evolves some species will adapt and survive, sometimes in increasing numbers, and others will decrease and potentially disappear.

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