Thursday, May 24, 2007

SE US Nightjar Survey

A bit of old news, but still an important study:


The Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary would like to invite Florida birders and conservationists to participate in the Southeastern Nightjar Survey Network. The network is a group of conservation minded citizens working together to improve our understanding on the population trends of Whip-poor-wills and Chuck-will's Widows by conducting standardized population surveys.

The Whip-poor-will and Chuck-will's Widow are two of the most enigmatic birds in North America. Very little is known on basic aspects of their biology, habitat use, and population status due to their cryptically nocturnal lifestyle.

In recent years, conservationists and the general public have come to share a general sense that populations of these two Nightjars are declining dramatically. However, prior to this program, there was no widespread or long-term monitoring strategy to gather vital population information. Gaining an understanding on the precise magnitude and scale of population changes are critical if we are to plot a course for conservation.

The Southeastern Nightjar Survey is a new monitoring strategy designed to collect and analyze data annually on the population distribution and trends of Nightjars throughout the southeastern United States. Nightjar survey routes are distributed across ten states including; Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Nightjar Surveys are standardized counts conducted along census routes at night. Observers count all Nightjars seen or heard for a six-minute period at each of 10 stops along the route. The entire survey will not take much more than one hour to complete. We have designed a series of routes in each state based on the existing BBS but also have provided methods for interested participants to create their own route.

The success of this program relies entirely on volunteer participation. Please consider adopting a Nightjar Survey Route in your area. See the Southeastern Nightjar Survey Network webpages at for more details on how to participate.

If the 2007 survey window is approaching too quickly for you to commit this year, consider adopting a route for 2008 now.

Michael Wilson
Research Biologist
Center for Conservation Biology

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