.|  Baltimore Ecosystem Study
BES Bird Monitoring Project: Birds in Everyday Baltimore
  • Charles Nilon, University of Missouri
  • Paige Warren, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Rock Pigeon
The BES Bird Monitoring Project is a breeding bird survey designed to find out what birds are found in the breeding season in Baltimore City and where they are found. Our monitoring efforts are designed to show associations among census tract block group socioeconomic variables, land cover, land use, and habitat features with breeding bird abundance. We hope that this information can be used by land managers, planners, and local residents on possible consequences of land use changes on bird communities.
A distinguishing feature of the bird monitoring at BES LTER, relative to other urban bird work, is the capacity for long-term monitoring of features at multiple scales through links to other parts of the project. Different processes influence habitat for birds at different scales, e.g. ongoing household-level human decision-making at lot scale vs. decisions made by residents and or planners at block or neighborhood scales. Our project seeks to understand how these processes impact bird occurrence, abundance, and composition.
We monitor birds on a subset of the network of Urban Forest Effect Model (UFORE) survey points that were established in Baltimore at the start of the BES project. The 200 UFORE points in Baltimore City are stratified by land use. Because we are interested in residential areas and decision making at lot, block, and neighborhood scales we count birds on 132 UFORE points in and around residential neighborhoods in Baltimore City that are stratified by by both land use and by their location in residential census tract block groups.

Current activities

In 2012 we worked with volunteers to collect data on birds during the winter season. We plan to expand our monitoring efforts in the winter season and look forward to involving volunteers from the Baltimore birding community.
Search "bird" using the BES Data for Download page for the latest data.

Pilot Study (2002) The First Part of Our Project

We conducted a pilot study employed a grid with 500m spacing. We surveyed 50 randomly selected points from the grid. In addition, we surveyed birds in 50 small parks, stratified using PRIZM classification of the surrounding census block groups. From analysis of these data, we determined the abundance and distribution of 46 bird species.

Sampling Points
Illustration by Charlie Nilon


Rock Pigeon Mean Detections / Census Point

Urban Bird Communities and Their Habitat Associations:
We also identified key urban bird communities and their habitat associations.

Illustration by: Charlie Nilon

The analysis from the pilot study suggested three main factors associated with bird communities in Baltimore: land use, ratio of built structure to tree cover, and socioeconomic indicators. We based the long-term monitoring study design on the findings from our pilot study.
Publications from Pilot Study:
Nilon, C. H., P.S. Warren, and J. Wolf. 2009. Baltimore Birdscape Study: Identifying habitat and land-Cover variables for an urban bird-monitoring project. Urban Habitats 6. http://www.urbanhabitats.org/v06n01/baltimore_full.html
Pickett, S.T.A., M.L. Cadenasso, J. M. Grove, P.M. Groffman, L.E. Band, C.G. Boone, W.R. Burch Jr., C.S.B. Grimmond, J. Hom, J.C. Jenkins, N.L. Law, C.H. Nilon, R.V. Pouyat, K. Szlavecz, P.S. Warren, and M.A. Wilson. 2008. Beyond urban legends: An emerging framework of urban ecology, as illustrated by the Baltimore Ecosystem Study. BioScience 52:1-12.
For More Information on the BES Bird Monitoring Project or to Volunteer Contact:
Charles Nilon
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences
302 Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65211-7240
Phone 573-882-3738
email nilonc@missouri.edu