A general computer-intensive method is described for fitting spatial detection functions to capture-recapture data from arrays of passive detectors such as live traps and mist nets. The method is used to estimate the population density of 10 species of breeding birds sampled by mist-netting in deciduous forest at Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel, Maryland, U.S.A., from 1961 to 1972. Total density (9.9 ? 0.6 ha-1 mean ? SE) appeared to decline over time (slope -0.41 ? 0.15 ha-1y-1). The mean precision of annual estimates for all 10 species pooled was acceptable (CV(D) = 14%). Spatial analysis of closed-population capture-recapture data highlighted deficiencies in non-spatial methodologies. For example, effective trapping area cannot be assumed constant when detection probability is variable. Simulation may be used to evaluate alternative designs for mist net arrays where density estimation is a study goal.