Monitoring Birds

Birds can add color, song, and even joy to your farm. And, because birds respond to both short term and long term changes in habitat, they also serve as good “biodiversity barometers.” Management decisions and practices that protect or restore a diversity of habitats not only can bring more birds to your farm, but also contribute to its sustainability. Monitoring bird movements and abundance can help you see the impact of management on biodiversity and ecosystem health.

What Is It?

This chapter describes a modified Point Count Method. The structured consistency of this method works well for tracking changes in bird presence and Image
abundance due to changes in management.

Who Does It?

Any interested member of the farm family can learn to do bird counts. Working in pairs makes the process easier as one person observes and the other takes notes. You might also consider asking the help of someone with experience doing bird counts, perhaps a local bird club member or biologist.


Bird breeding activity peaks between late May and early July. To take full advantage of the opportunity to observe migratory species on their nesting territories, do three counts spaced two weeks apart at each permanent sampling point, during calm weather.

Time Required

Plan on spending a minimum of ten minutes at each sampling point. The total time spent in the field depends on the number of sampling points and how long it takes to hike between them. Summarizing the results of your outing onto the record sheets at home requires a few more minutes.

Materials & Cost

A clipboard, a shoulder bag, pencils, binoculars, and a field guide can be obtained for about a hundred dollars. Higher quality binoculars will increase that figure. To record your observations, master copies of a Point Count Form and a Six-Year Record Sheet are included with the chapter. You will need to make copies from these masters.