DoD Partners in Flight (DoD PIF)

Monitoring Working Group

Significant progress has been achieved in recent years to better identify an efficient, coordinated approach to monitoring avian resources. Monitoring has historically been done without much consideration for monitoring actions outside a given agency, and sometimes without a clear articulation of what management question is being targeted. With limited budgets and resources, it is imperative that we maximize the effectiveness of any monitoring project, including the archiving and analysis of monitoring data.

In February 2007, the Monitoring Sub-committee of the US North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) released its report "Opportunities for improving avian monitoring" ( The report, prepared by a distinguished panel of 16 experts in bird monitoring, emphasizes the importance of clearly understanding the management issues that monitoring will be used to address before initiating new surveys. The report establishes 4 goals and contains 4 recommendations to achieve these goals. A series of action items is also presented by which the recommendations and goals can be achieved. DoD has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with other agencies endorsing the report.

Two other notable, recent events in bird monitoring were the signing of an MOU (pursuant to Executive Order 13186) between DoD and the US Fish and Wildlife Service "to promote the conservation of migratory birds" and the adoption of a Final Rule pertaining to "take of migratory birds by the Armed Forces". The MOU became effective on August 30, 2006; the final rule became effective on March 30, 2007. Both measures include strong language on the importance of monitoring bird populations.

In order to effectively address the requirements set forth in the 2003 National Defense Authorization Act and Executive Order 13186, a comprehensive, coordinated avian monitoring strategy needs to be implemented. Coordinated Bird Monitoring (CBM) is a movement and an approach to monitoring, led by the landbird and shorebird initiatives, that has already produced numerous products. The vision of CBM is that monitoring should be:

  • Management-driven
  • Science-based
  • Scale-dependent
  • Implemented through partnerships

CBM is an effort to increase efficiency and utility of bird monitoring through improved coordination between the bird conservation initiatives, between field workers and statisticians, and between decision-makers and technical experts. Major components of CBM include improving the infrastructure for monitoring and development of Regional and Organizational CBM Plans. Improving monitoring infrastructure looks at:

  • Conceptual framework (vision, goals, objectives)
  • Long-term, large-scale programs (how many, what kind)
  • Agreement on field survey methods
  • A robust data management system
  • Defining appropriate reports and the responsibilities for producing them

Additional monitoring resources:

Maps: Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship
Coordinated Bird Monitoring: Technical Recommendations for Military Lands pdf [854 KB]

Legacy Project 07-246, USGS Open-File Report 2010-1078

Northeast Bird Monitoring Handbook pdf [980 KB]

Northeast Coordinated Bird Monitoring Partnership

Land Manager's Guide to Point Counts of Birds in the Southeast pdf [980 KB]

US Forest Service, SO-GTR-120

A habitat-based point-count protocol for Washington and Oregon pdf [304 KB]

US Forest Service, PNW-GTR-501

Handbook for Monitoring Birds pdf [1.47 MB]

US Forest Service, PSW-GTR-144

For information on national PIF Monitoring activities, see:

National Monitoring Working Groups
Partners in Flight