Why Monitor Birds?
1. Your nest observations help us to better understand the impacts of environmental change on bird populations.
Long-term datasets become more valuable each year and are vital to scientists in helping them understand and predict the effects of climate and land-use changes on birds. As these impacts may vary with latitude, weather conditions, and habitat type, it is important to study them at continental or even global scales.
2. Studies of nesting birds can increase our understanding of population ecology, conservation biology, and behavioral ecology.
Most nesting birds can be observed closely without harm to the birds or to the humans watching them. Therefore, it is relatively easy to collect large amounts of data on a wide range of topics such as variation of nesting habits and habitats, egg laying, clutch size, incubation periods, and overall nesting success. To accurately capture the details of bird biology and behavior on a broad scale, the scientific community needs the input of citizen monitors and amateur birders.
3. Because there is often intense competition among nesting birds for a limited number of suitable breeding sites, many species are decreasing in population.
Urbanization, habitat loss, predation, competition with non-native birds, disease, pollution, and a host of other factors all can contribute to reduced reproductive success in birds. Monitoring nests over long periods of time creates baseline data that can be used to help detect changes in the abundance, distribution, and overall productivity of breeding bird populations. The ability to detect changes in reproductive performance is a crucial part of assessing population health and developing conservation guidelines or implementing management activities.
4. The biological effects on bird populations of providing and monitoring nest boxes are not well known.
Hundreds of thousands of nest boxes have been provided to help bird populations, but many are infrequently monitored and data that are collected are not always analyzed. Gathering basic information about nest inhabitants, and then subjecting that information to scientific scrutiny, is the first step toward assessing the effect of nest boxes on the cavity-nesting birds that use them.
5. Nest monitoring increases our appreciation for birds and the natural world.
Regular trips to nests enable people to witness the labors of parent birds, from the start of nest building, up to the time the young reach independence. Witnessing and understanding the nesting cycle can increase appreciation and respect for birds, which can lead to increased protection of birds.