Much of our work at The Institute for Bird Populations is based on
the premise that a little thoughtful coordination can knit together
the efforts of many disparate individuals and groups into something
greater than the sum of its parts. This maxim is particularly true
for monitoring bird populations, and in many cases participants do
not need to be professional biologists to make important contributions.
A case in point is the new paper published by IBP scientists Bob Wilkerson
and Rodney Siegel in Bird Populations, IBP’s own peer-reviewed
IBP coordinated the efforts of 394 volunteer bird surveyors, who
contributed over 6,400 hours of their time to count Burrowing Owls
on 860 5km x 5km study plots across California. The volunteers documented
the exact locations of 1,758 pairs of owls, and also produced important
information about where Burrowing Owls are absent. IBP aggregated
these survey results to estimate the size of regional and statewide
Burrowing Owl populations, and compare those estimates with results
from a similar study IBP coordinated in the early 1990s.
Results from the survey have now been published in:
Wilkerson, R. L., and R. B. Siegel.
2010. Assessing changes in the distribution and abundance of Burrowing
Owls in California, 1993-2007. Bird Populations 10:1-36.
(large pdf - please be patient)
Wilkerson, R. L., and R. B. Siegel. 2011.
Distribution and abundance of Western Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia
hypugaea) in southeastern California. The Southwestern Naturalist
We thank all of the volunteer surveyors, and the National Fish and
Wildlife Foundation, California Department of Fish and Game, and Pacific
Gas and Electric Company for providing funding to coordinate the project.