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Volunteering with Bird Counts

There are several ways one can help monitor bird populations in the Mountain State.

Breeding Bird Atlas Project

Much like the first West Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas project (1984-1989) the West Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas II (WVBBAII) is a survey designed to document the status and distribution of all breeding species of birds that occur within the state. Repeating this project after 25 years will allow WVDNR to compare data and assess changes in the distributions of West Virginia’s breeding birds since the first Atlas. Additionally, changes within the project structure will provide insight into priority habitats that support a high diversity of species and/or species of concern, and will provide an accurate measure of the abundance of breeding birds in a given area. Generally BBA’s are conducted by volunteer surveyors and this project is no exception—we need your help! The current project will run from 2009-2014. For more information click here.

Backyard Winter Bird Count

Each year the WVDNR collects information in its Winter Bird Count which lasts 12 weeks beginning in November. Observations take place at one’s backyard bird feeder on the weekends and there is a simple tally sheet to fill out. This can be a fun family activity!

For more information, click here.

Christmas Bird Count

The National Audubon Society sponsors an annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) which usually takes place on one day anytime from mid-December to early January. Currently there are 17 CBCs done across West Virginia each year. Locations include Canaan Valley, Charles Town, Charleston, Hampshire County, Huntington, Inwood (Berkeley County), Lewisburg, McDowell County, Morgantown, Oak Hill, Ona (Cabell County), Parkersburg, Pendleton County, Pipestem State Park area, Raleigh County, Wheeling and Elkins.For more information contact your local bird club or richard.s.bailey@wv.gov. For general information on the CBC, go to http://www.audubon.org/bird/cbc/index.html

West Virginia Point Count Surveys

This year, 124 point count survey routes (PCS) were run in WV. This includes 1,312 points in 50 of the state’s 55 counties. The majority of these points are in mixed mesophytic forests.This habitat is not adequately covered by the Breeding Bird Surveys so we are adding a great deal of data on the birds in this habitat. The PCSs have been expanded to include other habitats such as wetlands, grasslands and reclaimed strip mines. Also, areas of the state where little bird work had been done (Braxton, Grant, Lincoln, Mineral, Mingo and Wood counties) are now being covered. It is hoped that coverage will continue to expand in WV in 2004.

All of the survey routes are permanent and it is expected, with time, to be able to estimate species trends and evaluate bird/habitat associations. The DNR has received requests for information on cerulean, golden-winged, and magnolia warblers and yellow–bellied sapsuckers. Without the dedicated and talented birders in the state, none of this would be possible. For more information, contact richard.s.bailey@wv.gov.

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