Keith Pardieck & The Breeding Bird Survey


“Birds are bell weathers of the environment. So if we know that they are in trouble I think it’s pretty clear that there are things coming down the road that will be affecting us as well.”

When Keith Pardieck led our film crew to the basement of the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), we couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the treasure trove of data. The BBS is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Geological Survey’s Pautxent Wildlife Research Centre and Environment Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service. Each year since 1966, BBS volunteers have been collecting bird population data along survey routes across the United States and Canada.

“We have about 4100 survey routes and over 80 million bird detections in our database,” said Keith. “It’s not just guess work at this point. We provide scientifically viable population trend estimates for over 400 bird species in North America.”

Many of these trend estimates provide sobering evidence of songbird declines:  Cerulean Warbler – 84% decline since 1966, Eastern Meadowlark – 79%. The list goes on.

Keith is the National Co-ordinator at the North American Breeding Bird Survey at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Centre.