Ottawa Bird Count Wednesday, 15 August 2018 05:02 pm  
Census Plot Program

Enter your data here!

Please refer to the Point Count database entry instructions which is a similar process to the Census database entry:
Database Instructions (pdf file ~600k).

Summary of Census Plot results from 2007

OBC Study Area for Census and Point Count Programs

Plots to Adopt

Follow this link to a Google Maps posting that shows some existing plots that are available for adoption. Then send an email with your preferences.

Field maps and aerial photos of your plot

Detailed Maps for adopted plots - if you have adopted a plot, the detailed maps are here.




Field Protocol (5.6 MB) - 2014 Updated Protocol
Example Field Map
Summary Sheet

What is Territory Mapping?

The objective of territory mapping is to estimate population densities for each bird species present within a surveyed plot of land. This approach to surveying birds has been used in numerous monitoring programs such as U.K.'s Common Bird Count, and the Breeding Bird Census in North America. The technique is also referred to as spot mapping because the locations of each individual bird in the plot are recorded over a number of visits to the site and these spot locations are then combined into estimates of individual territories. Observations of counter-singing males and aggressive interactions are particularly important to distinguish multiple territories of the same species from multiple observations of the same bird, since they help define territory borders.

Many observers enjoy this approach because of the intimate knowledge of the local bird community that they develop on repeated visits and since there are no strict time limits there is freedom to double-check observations and further investigate unusual sightings.

Why Territory Mapping on 10ha plots?

The OBC uses territory mapping methods because they result in highly accurate and precise estimates of the species present in a plot and their relative densities and therefore provide the best opportunity to monitor changes due to development. There are also many other benefits to using this approach:

  • It targets a broader range of species because it's not limited to early morning observations nor to actively singing species that are easy to monitor using point counts
  • There are few restrictive time limitations and therefore more flexibility in observer skill level (i.e. time to check the field guide)
  • 10 ha plots (squares, 316 x 316 m), are small enough to survey effectively in a short period of time yet large enough to represent the local species density well.
  • Intensive survey effort means that observers often locate nests incidentally.
  • It provides much of the same information that can be gathered using atlassing methods but in a slightly more controlled way.
  • Precise locations of territories and individual birds allow for very specific effects of important local habitats to be assessed.

What commitment is required to adopt a census plot?

In many ways, territory mapping is similar to atlassing (for those of you who were involved in the breeding bird atlas project) except the squares are much smaller and the information recorded is therefore more detailed.

Adopting a census plot should require a total of approximately 20 hours of your time each season. Each plot must be visited at least 5 times and each visit should require about 2 hours to complete. After each visit, you can count on 30 minutes to an hour to interpret the observations you've made in the field.

There are no strict limits to the time spent on the plot during each visit. However, if you are spending more than twice the minimum amount of time, please consider adopting an additional plot. In addition, please ensure that you spend long enough on the plot that you are reasonably sure you've recorded all of the birds that are present (at least 1-2 hours). There is a tendency to spend less time in areas of plots that are more developed. Pre-judging the diversity and abundance of birds in your survey area can make the differences between development types very difficult to interpret. It becomes hard to know if the differences are real or are due to different levels of effort. If the survey effort is overly biased, we won't learn anything new from the results of your hard work.

Where are the plots located?

The census plots have been placed in specific locations so that the program will measure differences in the bird communities before and after development with a rigorously controlled study design. Permanent "control" plots have been established in a range of residential development types that will allow us to compare bird communities in these different areas. Other, "pre-development" plots have been established in areas that are likely to be developed in the near future ("before" or "baseline" data). These plots will be re-surveyed after development ("after" or "impact" data) to measure changes and the data gathered in the permanent plots will provide control data so that we can clearly identify the causes behind any changes. This design means that we can coordinate our surveys with the development process to take advantage of these "natural experiments".

Sounds like fun!

If you're interested in adopting a pair of census plots, please contact us and we can choose some plots close to your home or in another area of your choice.

If you're interested but you're not sure that your identification skills are up to snuff we can help. Contact the OBC Coordinators and we'll let you know about our training sessions in the spring and some tools we have to help you improve your bird identification skills. If you're interested but you're not sure that you can commit that much time, consider adopting a point count route that will only require 1 morning of your time each year, or if a point count route is a bit beyond your skills at this point, check out our nest monitoring program that provides critical information on reproductive success. There is a way for anyone with even a very basic understanding of birds to help out.


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