Birds in Forested Landscapes addresses the habitat and conservation needs of forest-dwelling birds throughout North America. BFL was started in 1997 and evolved from the highly successful Project Tanager, one of three National Science Experiments conducted by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. These experiments were designed to involve birders and amateur scientists across the continent in scientific research. Project Tanager answered a critical avian-conservation question: How are tanagers in North America affected by forest fragmentation? Perhaps just as important, however, Project Tanager showed that it was possible for birders and amateur scientists to conduct continentwide field research that answers sophisticated scientific questions.
BFL has broadened the basic Project Tanager protocol to answer questions about other species of forest-dwelling birds and the influences that habitat changes may have on their populations. BFL focuses on gaps in scientific knowledge regarding the specific habitat requirements of high-priority forest birds. Collecting the information necessary to fill these gaps is daunting.
The task can be accomplished, however, by harnessing the energy and skills of birders and amateur scientists continentwide.
As a BFL participant, you will help answer the following conservation questions:
BFL engages volunteer birders, land managers, and professional biologists in a study of North America's forest birds. The success of BFL depends on volunteers across the continent who can collect the appropriate data on a massive scale, something a small team of professional researchers could never accomplish. Project participants not only contribute to our knowledge of forest birds, but also become part of a network of experienced volunteer researchers who may be called upon to address other important ornithological questions.
BFL originally focused on seven species of forest thrushes and two accipiters: the Cooper's Hawk and the Sharp-shinned Hawk. Today, we view BFL as a proven research tool to study almost any forest bird species and a myriad of characteristics associated with forest habitats. Although the overall goals of BFL will remain constant, we plan to adapt the project, when necessary, to address a wide range of ecological questions related to forest birds in North America. For example, we may elect to study the effects of specific human activities, such as recreation, while continuing to study the needs of "priority forest birds."
Because of its adaptability, BFL provides us with a mechanism to simultaneously study a diverse suite of bird species that are of high conservation concern. We call these our "priority species." These species were selected because they are considered of high or moderate conservation concern by Partners in Flight (PIF). The PIF prioritization process ranks species based on seven measures of population vulnerability, including size of range, relative abundance, and population trends. Meeting the habitat needs of these high-priority forest birds will help to enhance their populations, as well as sustain populations of other common species with less critical needs.
BFL will help provide the scientific criteria necessary to set conservation objectives and develop management prescriptions for the highest priority bird species. These criteria will include minimum thresholds of forest-patch size, levels of habitat fragmentation, and responses to various land-use practices. In addition, BFL will seek to document and map important breeding populations of patchily distributed forest species.
By participating in BFL, you are helping us to conserve North America's forest birds. Your help is greatly appreciated. We hope that you find the project enjoyable and rewarding.
As a participant in BFL, you will first choose appropriate study species according to the area where you are conducting the project. Next, you'll select survey points in forest patches of different sizes, visit each point twice during the breeding season to search for your selected study species, look for evidence of breeding success, and record certain characteristics about your study site. On both visits, you'll look and listen for the birds that you are studying as well as for potential nest predators and cowbirds. You'll also conduct a short Playback and Behavior Watch period for each study species by using a CD with BFL study species' songs, calls, and drums.
In the field, you'll record your observations on field data forms provided in this kit. Later, at your home or office, you'll enter your data on the BFL web site. If you don't have Web access, you can send your Field Forms and maps to the Lab and we'll enter the data for you. Your participation in this project and the information you collect will certainly contribute to our understanding of the habitat requirements, and conservation needs of these important forest birds.
What will we do with BFL results?
BFL staff will analyze your data,
report the results to you and