Point Count Surveys – birds, birds, birds.
Birding season is coming!
This week, I heard my first robin of the season. That bubbly, cheery song, like nothing else, tells me that spring is here… and that more birds are on their way! I’m not sure which I’m most excited about. Yes, I’m one of those weird people who loves birds. Not that liking birds is weird, but the thing I look forward to most is conducting bird point count surveys, which involves waking up really, really early. That’s the weird part, I guess.
Point count surveys begin 30 minutes before sunrise (which in Northern Alberta is very early!). Depending on the remoteness of the survey site, the forms of transportation required may include: truck, quad, hiking boots, chest waders, helicopter, canoe, or some combination of the above. And all of that travel has to happen before sunrise, meaning that sometimes, you have to wake up at times that you might normally be going to bed.
Point count surveys are a standard survey method that, while helping us determine what bird species are present in a given area, also allow an estimate of relative abundance that enables comparisons between different habitats, different study sites, and different years. Because point count survey methods are so standardized and widely used, the data that we collect for the purposes of our clients, can then be added to large regional databases and contribute to a larger understanding of what is happening in the world. Pretty cool.
While the early morning aspect of bird surveys can be challenging, it’s always worth it. That feeling when you’re in the field, surrounded by nothing but nature, being bombarded by a cacophony of bird songs, is like nothing else. I can’t wait for the point count survey season to begin! Spring cometh on the wings of a robin.