Procedures for an MBBS
Making each roadside count
- pick a day for your count between May 15 and June 30; a Sunday morning
is a good time because there is little traffic then
- arrive at the starting point in time to start your first count exactly
30 minutes before sunrise (about 5:30 EDT for our area
in early June)
- drive exactly 0.5 miles between counts by the odometer in your car
- if it is unsafe to stop at the 0.5-mile mark (or the 0.5-mile mark
falls on a numbered highway) continue to the first place on your route
where it is safe to stop (for the next count, proceed 0.5 miles from this
- continue until you have made 20 stops (9.5 miles if all intervals are
- get out of your car beside the road and get your data sheet ready
- record how many individuals of each species you see or hear within
exactly 3.0 minutes from the time you are ready to start
- if you are interrupted, or if traffic noise makes listening
impossible, add an equivalent amount of time to the 3.0 minutes
- do not count any birds heard or seen more than 0.25 miles away
- record the habitat on each side of the road (see
- use one of the sample data sheets (see
Before you run your route . . .
- The first time you run a route, it will take some extra time to learn
the turns and stopping places.
- A good county map with the names of secondary roads is
- Make a list of your stops so you can
remember them next year! Describe each stop briefly (for instance,
"after the yellow house", or "just past the white fence").
- Your first few roadside counts will also need some getting used to.
But it shouldn't be long before you have established a routine.
- Like the national BBS, the results will be most useful when the
same people do the same routes year after year.
- The longer we can keep doing these MBBS routes the more interesting
they will become!
- Notify the county sheriff's office that you will be counting birds
early in the morning.
- Make a sign with big letters -- Bird Count -- to display on your
- Enlist a friend to help out.