Informed management requires information about system state and about effects of potential management actions on system state. Population monitoring can provide the needed information about system state, as well as information that can be used to investigate effects of management actions. Three methods for investigating effects of management on bird populations are (1) retrospective analysis, (2) formal experimentation and constrained-design studies, and (3) adaptive management. Retrospective analyses provide weak inferences, regardless of the quality of the monitoring data. The active use of monitoring data in experimental or constrained-design studies or in adaptive management is recommended. Under both approaches, learning occurs via the comparison of estimates from the monitoring program with predictions from competing management models.