Numerous methods exist for monitoring bird populations, and there is a large literature describing them. There are few resources, however, that provide comprehensive advice on every step of organizing and carrying out a survey, from the early stages of planning to final use of the data. Even fewer resources are designed to meet the needs of a wide variety of potential users, from amateurs interested in change of bird life in a local study preserve to professionals testing hypotheses on the response of birds to habitat management, although much of the advice should be the same for every monitoring program. Whether survey objectives are very modest or rigorously scientific, samples must be sufficiently numerous and well distributed to provide meaningful results, and the survey should be well designed to ensure that the money and effort going into it are not wasted. This document is intended to be a complete resource for anyone planning to organize monitoring of noncolonial landbirds within a relatively small geographic area (e.g., from the size of a woodlot to a large park). The first of its two parts provides background explaining the importance of good study design and gives specific advice on all aspects of project planning and execution of high-quality data collection for the purpose of hypothesis testing. The second part is self-contained and nontechnical and describes complete plans for a site-specific checklist survey, suitable for addressing monitoring questions frequently asked by amateurs and for involvement of volunteers in data collection. Throughout are references to additional resources, from background literature to sources of existing survey protocols, analysis software, and tools for archiving data.
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Monitoring bird populations in small geographic areas