BBS – Sign Up Now

Recently on IN-Bird Amy Kearns requested volunteers for the open routes of the Indiana Breeding Bird Survey (BBS). I have always wanted to run one but the time of year usually conflicted with family vacations. Plus I thought we were going to move again and in these positions I think you need longevity. Since we are here for now I signed up for a couple.

I knew running these routes was a good thing since they are used to monitor bird trends. But there was one thing that pushed me over the top to sign up.

Remember last winter when I started blogging about endangered species, here and abroad? On the IUCN’s Red List I noticed something under the endanger species for Indiana.

The IUCN uses the results of the BBS to monitor trends.

RHWO IUCN Breeding Bird Survey
This is the trend justification to place the Red-headed Woodpecker in the Near-Threatened category for the IUCN Red List. Note the two surveys used – Breeding Bird Survey and Christmas Bird Counts.


The same justification is used for putting the Chimney Swift in the IUCN Red List Near-Threatened category. Only the BBS is used since Chimney Swifts aren’t around in winter.

Along with Christmas Bird Counts I noticed the IUCN uses BBS for justification. That is why I was glad to see one of my routes started in the inaugural year of 1966 and the other in 1983. It will be great to compare my results to surveys taking exactly 50 years ago.

I have talked to people who think BBS are a waste of time and effort. Can someone tell me how else we are going to monitor birds over the long haul? eBird and its equivalent in other countries will make a difference someday, but it has only been around for 10 years.

For now we need to continue on with BBS, Christmas Bird Counts, and May Big Days which Cornell (eBird) has also started to promote heavily.

Why not sign up for a BBS?

2 Replies to “BBS – Sign Up Now”

  1. It seems incredible to me that Chimney Swifts are near threatened with how easy they are to see and their seeming abundance. Thank you for shaking me out of complacency with a species I take for granted.

    1. That’s pretty much the same way I felt when I first saw it. The Chimney Swift? But if you think about it the types of chimneys they live in are no longer being built. In fact where I worked 20 years ago we took one down that was probably used by Chimney Swifts. I’m sure I’ll post more about them later in the summer.

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