Study Site Instructions
Selecting an appropriate study site is one of the most important steps in the BFL research protocol. The following section provides you with the guidelines of study site selection. Please read the information carefully, as proper selection of study sites will affect your overall enjoyment of the project and our ability to glean patterns and useable results from your data.
BFL is not just a study of birds, it's also a study of landscapes and habitats. To get the most from your data, statistically and biologically, we would ideally like a random sample of all forest habitats. These habitats would include forests of various types (Appalachian oak, pinyon pine-juniper, etc.), sizes, ages, elevations, latitudes, and disturbance levels. However, it's unrealistic, even in a study as large as BFL, to obtain a completely random sample of all forest habitats. So, we've developed a study-site selection process that gives you the flexibility to select convenient study sites while generating the range of unbiased data required for proper statistical analyses. BFL depends on a full range of forest sizes and types that are potentially suitable breeding habitat for the study birds. The sites that you select will become part of a continent-wide network of BFL sites that we hope to study for many years to come.
Since the data you provide on the presence/absence, behavior, and breeding status of forest birds only tells half of the complex story of forest bird ecology, we need information about the habitats associated with your study sites. In order to get this information, we ask you to describe the habitats associated with your study site(s) at three geographic scalesthe survey point, the study site, and the surrounding landscape. Habitat and physical characteristics measured at each of these scales tell us a great deal about how forest birds select a place to nest and what their habitat requirements are for successful breeding. We realize that collecting habitat data can be tedious work; however, these data are critical to the success of BFL, and therefore, to the conservation of North America's forest birds. We hope you will approach your habitat work with the same enthusiasm and diligence that you have for counting and observing birds.