Concerns?about declines in numerous taxa have created agreat deal of interest in survey development. Because birds have traditionally been monitored by a variety of methods, bird surveys form natural models for development of surveys for other taxa. Here I suggest that most bird surveys are not appropriate models for survey design. Most lack important design components associated with estimation of population parameters at sample sites or with sampling over space, leading to estimates that may be biased, I discuss the limitations of national bird monitoring programs designed to monitor population size. Although these surveys are often analyzed, careful consideration must be given to factors that may bias estimates but that cannot be evaluated within the survey. Bird surveys with appropriate designs have generally been developed as part of management programs that have specific information needs. Experiences gained from bird surveys provide important information for development of surveys for other taxa, and statistical developments in estimation of population sizes from counts provide new approaches to overcoming the limitations evident in many bird surveys. Design of surveys is a collaborative effort, requiring input from biologists, statisticians, and the managers who will use the information from the surveys.