Monitoring and Research Boreal Partners in Flight Projects

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Boreal Partners in Flight has five major regional projects designed to monitor broad-scale trends in populations of landbirds. There are also many projects throughout Alaska that address specific research questions or local monitoring needs.

Return to Terrestrial Ecosystems >> Landbird Research in Alaska >> Boreal Partners in Flight

  • North American Breeding Bird Survey
    The North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) is the most widespread program for monitoring the continent's breeding bird populations. The program includes about 3,700 roadside routes, among which 2,750 are surveyed each year. Each route consists of 50 stops placed at 0.5-mile intervals along a 24.5-mile stretch of road. Routes are surveyed once a year by an observer who is familiar with the sight and song of birds in the region. At each of the 50 stops, the observer records the number of individuals of every species, either heard or seen, during a three-minute period; only birds detected with 0.25 mile of the road are counted. Surveys begin a half-hour before sunrise (no earlier than 2:30 am in Alaska) and are completed within 4-5 hours. Most routes in Alaska are surveyed between the second and fourth weeks of June. Because of differences in the skills of observers, the same observer is encouraged to survey the route for a number of years.
    The initiation of the Partners in Flight program in Alaska increased interest in conducting BBS routes in the state. Coverage of routes in Alaska has more than doubled since 1992. Approximately 75 routes are surveyed annually in Alaska and more than 200 species have been recorded. In a typical year, observers count about 35,000 individual birds along BBS routes in the state. Data summaries and estimates of population trends are available for over 400 species on the BBS website. For more information on the Alaska program please refer to the Breeding Bird Survey Contact web site.
  • Alaska Landbird Monitoring Survey

    Alaska provides breeding habitats for 135 species of landbirds, half of which breed predominantly north of the U.S.-Canada border. The road-based North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) provides some data on population trends in Alaska but most northern species are inadequately monitored because of a paucity of roads. Boreal Partners in Flight thus developed the Alaska Landbird Monitoring Survey (ALMS) to monitor breeding populations of landbirds in roadless areas in Alaska and complement data collected from the roadside BBS. The primary objectives of ALMS are to (1) monitor long-term population trends; (2) determine abundance by habitat; and (3) model distribution across Alaska. ALMS is a collaborative program whereby agencies participate by conducting standardized surveys of breeding birds and their habitats on their resource lands and contributing the data to the U.S. Geological Survey's Alaska Science Center for storage and analysis. ALMS and its pilot program have recorded >100,000 observations of birds across approximately 400 sites in Alaska. For more information about ALMS see The Alaska Landbird Monitoring Survey Web site.

  • eBird
    eBird is the largest biodiversity citizen science program in the world and is run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Over 100 million bird sightings are submitted each year to the eBird website by birder’s from across the globe. The data are increasingly being used for examining large-scale patterns in bird distribution, abundance, diversity, habitat use, and movement. Please submit your sightings to eBird!
  • Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship
    The MAPS Program is a continent-wide collaborative effort among public agencies, non-governmental groups, and individuals to assist the conservation of birds and their habitats through demographic monitoring.
  • Christmas Bird Count
    The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a hemisphere-wide effort coordinated by the National Audubon Society to monitor populations of birds on their wintering grounds. Each year volunteers count individuals of all species seen or heard within an established 15-mile-radius circle on a single day in late December or early January. Because the effort in counting varies each year, records are kept of the number of observers, parties working together, and party-hours and party-miles spent on foot or in cars. Nearly 40 count areas are surveyed each winter across Alaska. Each year the results are published in American Birds, and summaries can be found on the CBC website.
  • Beak Deformity Research
    Over the past 20 years, Alaskans have witnessed a startling increase of beak deformities among Black-capped Chickadees and other species of resident birds. This disease, called avian keratin disorder (AKD), is characterized by debilitating beak overgrowth and other abnormalities of keratinized tissues. Affected birds have difficulty feeding and preening, and may suffer high rates of mortality. 
  • Boreal Avian Modelling Project (BAM) 
    BAM is a research program that compiles and analyzes data from avian point-count surveys conducted across northern North America by a variety of disparate inventory, monitoring, research, and environmental assessment projects. Data from Alaska surveys are regularly submitted to the program and included in BAM’s predictive models of avian distribution, abundance, and population change. Please consider submitting your point-count data to BAM.


Logo for Boreal Partners in Flight

Logo by Bryce Robinson,