Monitoring is critical to guide and evaluate management, assess the status of rare species, raise “red flags” for declining species, and determine Vermont’s contribution to regional populations.
New conservation issues, changing population trends, and advances in monitoring techniques require continually revisiting monitoring strategies.
The BBS has been conducting roadside surveys since 1966.
The Atlas was one of the first coordinated efforts in Vermont to survey birds, and provided a baseline snapshot of the distribution of bird species across the state.
BBS under-samples some species, e.g., those associated with wetlands, high elevations, forest interiors, other habitats that are not well-represented along roads, raptors, nocturnal species, and species that are wide-ranging, rare, specialized, and difficult to detect.
A variety of monitoring projects that address gaps in BBS data have cropped up since the first Atlas; most are citizen-science based.
- Forest Bird Monitoring Project (FBMP), initiated in 1989, monitors in a broad range of interior, unmanaged forest types.
- Mountain Birdwatch (MBW), initiated in 2000, monitors population trends of sensitive bird species in mountain forests of the northeastern U.S., with a particular focus on Bicknell’s Thrush.
- More targeted monitoring includes: The Nature Conservancy monitors on its own lands; Audubon Vermont monitors Important Bird Areas (IBAs); USFWS monitors birds on Missisquoi and Silvio O. Conte NWRs; VCE coordinates annual Whip-poor-will surveys as part of a range-wide initiative; VTDFW conducts and/or funds marshbird surveys at the largest wetlands in the Champlain Valley, annual colonial waterbird surveys on Lake Champlain, and nesting duck monitoring.
- Monitoring has been an essential component of VTDFW’s successful recovery of Common Loon, Common Tern, Osprey, and Peregrine Falcon, often in partnership with the private sector.
Focused research in Vermont has resulted in long-term data sets that have allowed for evaluation of population dynamics, productivity, limiting factors, and management options. Long-term data have been collected for Bicknell’s Thrush (VCE), grassland birds (UVM and University of New England), Common Tern (VTDFW and Audubon Vermont) and Gray Jay (B. Barnard).
“Casual observations” made by birders have documented rare species, annual phenology, and the spread of novel species. Examples include Records of Vermont Birds (1973 to 2002), Vermont Bird Records Committee, and Vermont eBird (initiated in 2004), which already has nearly a half-million bird records scattered from 7,000 locations.