The North American Breeding Bird Survey in Mexico, 2008 to 2018—A Status Report

Circular 1479
By:  and 



Collection of avian population data has repeatedly been identified as a high priority for bird conservation in Mexico. To meet this need, in 2008 the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), a volunteer-based survey, was expanded to include northern Mexico. The BBS in Mexico (Mexican BBS) is managed by the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI), Mexico’s National Coordination Office inside the Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO).

During 2008–18, 252 surveys were conducted along 68 routes in Mexico, with geographic coverage varying from year to year. Of these 68 routes, 36 were surveyed three or more times. Thirty-one observers conducted the surveys, and 21 of these observers conducted two or more surveys. Just two observers conducted more than one-third of the 252 surveys, and both observers were paid to conduct the surveys. The low availability of local observers who are qualified, willing, and able to volunteer their services to conduct BBS surveys may prove to be the biggest obstacle to the success of the Mexican BBS program, especially in the context of Mexico’s ongoing safety and security concerns.

Apart from the amount of data collected, many surveys did not adhere to pre-established quality-control requirements, and this would result in the exclusion of a large percentage of the data from potential trend analyses. Only 31 percent of the surveys met all the quality-control criteria. Additional observer training may help resolve this issue. Of greater concern is the selection of region-specific sampling date windows during which the surveys are conducted. Observers consistently conducted surveys outside the preliminarily prescribed sampling date window, reflecting the need to re-evaluate the regional appropriateness of this date window.

Regardless of the quality of the data, the quantity of data available from 2008 to 2018 is insufficient for trend analysis using methods typically employed by U.S. Geological Survey BBS analysts. Reaching minimum sample size thresholds for statistical analysis will require a substantial increase in effort. During 2008–18, no strata (defined as the intersection of State and Bird Conservation Region boundaries) reached the suggested minimum of 14 sampled routes, and most routes were not run consistently.

This report provides information needed for an evaluation of the merits of continuing to invest in the Mexican BBS program in its current form. Such an evaluation should consider the likelihood of achieving the primary project goal of producing reliable long-term population trend estimates, a projected timeline for meeting this goal, and include an assessment of the potential value of any additional data products.

Suggested Citation

U.S. Geological Survey and Mexican National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity, 2021, The North American Breeding Bird Survey in Mexico, 2008 to 2018—A Status Report: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1479, 33 p.,

ISSN: 2330-5703 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Mexican BBS: The First 11 Years, 2008–18
  • Concluding Remarks
  • References Cited
  • Appendix 1. Summary of the Data Used in This Report
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title The North American Breeding Bird Survey in Mexico, 2008 to 2018—A status report
Series title Circular
Series number 1479
DOI 10.3133/cir1479
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Eastern Ecological Science Center
Description Report: v, 33 p.; Data Release
Country Mexico
State Baja California, Baja California Sur, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Sonora, Tamaulipas
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details