Ottawa Bird Count Tuesday, 21 August 2018 08:02 am  
Point Count Program

Enter your data here!

Database Instructions (pdf file ~600k).

OBC Study Area for Census and Point Count Programs


Route Maps

Look at the maps below and choose a few plots that interest you (pick some numbers). Then send an email with your preferences.

Prority routes for surveying in 2016

priority point counts for 2015

We are aiming to survey all of our routes in the next two years, leading up to our 10th anniversary (2017). To do that, we have identified certain routes that are the highest priority for this field season. To choose a route for this year, use this map to see the route's approximate location, then view the detailed maps for each route below. When you've chosen a route or two that you'd like to adopt, contact the coordinator ASAP.

Also new for 2016! Now even beginner and novice birders can adopt a point count route!

Thanks to some generous donations, we have purchased some high-quality, stereo audio recorders that beginner and novice birders can use to conduct point counts, without worrying about their ID-skills (an expert birder will listen to the recordings afterwards). If you're interested please contact the coordinator.

Instructions for doing point counts with an audio recorder

Detailed Maps of Each PC Route - if you know which route you'd like, go here for a detailed map.

All PC Routes

Point Count Routes must be conducted at the times indicated in this table: Official Start Times.

Field-Sheet - [INSTRUCTIONS]
Detailed Field Protocol (1.4 MB) - 2016 Updated Protocol.
Full OBC Species List

If you adopted a route previously and for whatever reason you are not able to survey it this year, please contact the coordinator ASAP.

Why point counts?

Point counts provide an efficient and well standardized method of measuring the abundance of bird species. Point counts are used by many monitoring programs such as the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas and the North American Breeding Bird Survey to measure the relative abundance of different species and monitor population changes over time. The OBC uses point counts for both purposes and as well to measure the distribution of bird species across the city. Each year, the data collected on the point count routes will describe the differences in bird communities in different parts of the city and after a few years, these routes will show us how populations are changing with time (e.g. how fast is the purple martin population declining and does the answer depend on what part of the city we look at?).

What is a point count?

In a nut-shell, point counts involve a single observer recording all of the birds that are seen or heard at a particular point and time. The OBC point count routes contain anywhere from 6 - 12 permanent count stations that are surveyed in a particular order. Once each year during the peak of the breeding season, you spend one morning surveying all of the counts on your route. Because of the time restrictions, the majority of birds are heard rather than seen, which means that point count volunteers must be confident in their song identifications. Point count routes are conducted on a morning with good weather, in the predetermined order, at the same time of day, and on approximately the same date each year to reduce the influence of these random factors. Although point counts require well developed identification skills, many people find they grow to enjoy the excitement of this approach to birding and that trying a few really improves their skills.

What commitment and experience is required to adopt a point count route?

Each point count route should require at most, 5.5 hours of your time in the first year (and 4 hours each year following): 1.5 hours to visit the count locations in advance (just a quick site reconnaissance so you know where to stop and park), 3 hours one morning conducting the survey (between May 24 and July 7 but ideally 2nd - 3rd week of June), and about 1 hour to enter your data online and mail your datasheets into the main office. Preference for routes will be given to participants who are willing to adopt a route for 2 years or more. With any bird survey technique observers vary in their abilities to identify and detect different species. As such, maintaining the same observers on each route will greatly increase the precision of the population trend estimates.

To participate you need to be able to easily identify the 70 most common bird species in the city by sight and by sound. Have a look at the original field sheet. If you can quickly and confidently identify the species on this list by sight and sound, you're ready to go. If you're not quite there yet, consider a census plot or send us an email and we may be able to help you improve your skills.

How do OBC point counts differ from those done for the atlas or the BBS?

Most observations during point counts rely on the observer's ability to hear songs and calls. This ability is obviously affected by background noise. Most other monitoring programs accommodate the background noise by concentrating surveys into areas with little human activity. Since the OBC is specifically designed to monitor birds across a wide range of human activity levels (from parks and the greenbelt to downtown), we have to make two slight adjustments to account for the different levels of noise across the city: 1) OBC point counts last a total of 10 minutes to ensure fewer individuals are missed, and 2) the 10 minute count period is divided into 5 periods of 2 minutes each so that we can measure exactly how much the background noise affects participants ability to detect birds. This little extra information goes a long way towards increasing our ability to derive strong conclusions from the effort of our dedicated participants.

For a detailed look at the field methods for OBC point counts, download the protocol.

Sounds like fun!

If you'd like to see where the Point Count Routes are located have a look at these maps for the Eastern, Central, and Western parts of the city. Pick a route or two that look appealing and send us an email indicating which route you'd like to adopt (the numbers are on the maps).

If you're experienced at conducting point counts and you think you might be interested in participating, contact the OBC coordinators and we can choose a route close to your home or in another area of your choice. If you're interested but you're not sure about point counts we can help. Contact the OBC Coordinators and we'll let you know about our training sessions in the spring and some tools we have to help you improve your song identification skills. If you think adopting your own route might be a bit beyond your skills at this point, check out our two other programs that have a bit more flexibility in their field methods (meaning there's time to check the field guide and more importantly, time for you to stop at the coffee shop that just happens to fall in your survey area).


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