A sampling plan was designed for the Bureau of Reclamation for selected riparian birds occurring along the Colorado River from Lake Mead to the southerly International Boundary with Mexico. The goals of the sampling plan were to estimate long-term trends in abundance and investigate habitat relationships especially in new habitat being created by the Bureau of Reclamation. The initial objective was to design a plan for the Gila Woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygialis), Arizona Bell's Vireo (Vireo bellii arizonae), Sonoran Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia sonorana), Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra), Gilded Flicker (Colaptes chrysoides), and Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus); however, too little data were obtained for the last two species. Recommendations were therefore based on results for the first four species. The study area was partitioned into plots of 7 to 23 hectares.
Plot borders were drawn to place the best habitat for the focal species in the smallest number of plots so that survey efforts could be concentrated on these habitats. Double sampling was used in the survey. In this design, a large sample of plots is surveyed a single time, yielding estimates of unknown accuracy, and a subsample is surveyed intensively to obtain accurate estimates. The subsample is used to estimate detection ratios, which are then applied to the results from the extensive survey to obtain unbiased estimates of density and population size. These estimates are then used to estimate long-term trends in abundance. Four sampling plans for selecting plots were evaluated based on a simulation using data from the Breeding Bird Survey. The design with the highest power involved selecting new plots every year. Power with 80 plots surveyed per year was more than 80 percent for three of the four species. Results from the surveys were used to provide recommendations to the Bureau of Reclamation for their surveys of new habitat being created in the study area.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
A sampling plan for riparian birds of the Lower Colorado River-Final Report