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Breeding Biology Research & Monitoring Database

The University of Montana


BBird Fly Catch

The Breeding Biology Research and Monitoring Database (BBIRD) program is a national, cooperative program that uses standardized field methodologies for studies of nesting success and habitat requirements of breeding birds. 

Conservation of bird populations and of biodiversity in general depends on identification and conservation of habitat conditions that support self-sustaining populations of coexisting species. Yet, the necessary breeding biology and habitat information is lacking for most species. BBIRD is comprised of independent investigators from throughout North America who work with and make their results available to local managers, disseminate results through articles in peer-reviewed journals and who meet annually to discuss results and issues. 

BBIRD participants contribute their data to the national BBIRD database to allow examination of large-scale patterns and trends. The national database includes data through 2002 on nearly 60,000 nests and associated vegetation, representing more than 210 species of birds. BBIRD monitors nesting success and habitat of nongame birds by finding and monitoring nests at replicate plots across North America. 

Studies at each local site generally include plots within large blocks of relatively unfragmented habitat and plots within another treatment to examine land use issues, such as fragmentation, habitat loss, or silvicultural treatments. Resulting data can allow identification of source (self-sustaining) and sink (non-self-sustaining) populations and the habitat conditions that produce such populations. In addition, local results can be put in the context of larger regional patterns through comparisons of nesting success in different geographic locations. BBIRD also includes point counts to index population size at plots and possible changes across years. Standardized vegetation sampling is conducted at nest sites, non-use plots, and point counts to allow detailed analysis of microhabitat requirements for successful nesting. 

BBIRD field protocols provide detailed instructions to potential investigators for initiating BBIRD sites and maintaining standardized data collection. The annual meeting allows discussions and refinement of any methodological issues that are agreed upon by the collective program participants. Ultimately, BBIRD enables scientists to provide true replication of studies and increase the power of their analyses through collaborative data-sharing and thereby allows them to identify relative population health and habitat requirements for a wide range of species in response to dynamic landscapes and global change. 

The BBIRD program is managed under the Biological Resources Division, U.S. Geological Survey and is supported in part by this program and by the USDA Forest Service. Data are provided by cooperators with wide sources of funding. This program would not be possible without the active participation of everyone involved.


The University of Montana