• 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 adjusted position)
  • Continue until you have made 20 stops (9.5 miles if all intervals are 0.5 miles)

Performing a count

Click here for the current procedures document.

Habitat codes can be found here.

After the survey

Review the Comments fields of your checklists, and edit or update them as necessary. This may be easier to do on a computer back at home than on your phone. Share ALL 20 checklists from your survey route with the appropriate MBBS account (mbbsorangenc, mbbsdurhamnc, or mbbschathamn). This is an extremely important step, and without it, it is as if the surveys were never conducted as far as the project is concerned. We need the observations centralized in these accounts.


Codes for Seven Major Habitat Categories

  • B – building(s) (except permanently abandoned ones) and areas heavily used by humans (lawns, athletic fields, golf courses, barnyards)
  • H – forest (treetops touching each other) with hardwoods composing more than 90% of the canopy
  • M – forest with pines and hardwoods mixed in the canopy (hardwoods 50-90% of the canopy)
  • P – forest with more than half the canopy pines (hardwoods less than 50% of the canopy)
  • S – second-growth (including areas with shrubs or scattered trees)
  • 0 – open areas with low vegetation (recent clear-cuts, agricultural fields including fallow and hay fields) – but not lawns and athletic fields (these are coded B as explained above)
  • W – water (lake, pond, river, stream) – often used as a secondary code after one of the above codes

Recording Habitat

  • Each year take along your codes from previous years and use the same codes again – except…
  • When you see that the habitat at a stop has changed (for instance, a clear-cut has become overgrown, a new clear-cut or development has replaced forest) – mark the new habitat code with an asterisk.
  • Focus on the habitat directly to the left and right of the exact place where you stop (if the stop is at an edge between two kinds of habitat, make a decision about which side of the edge you are on, even if only by one foot!).
  • Ignore any narrow strip of habitat parallel to the road (for instance, a line of trees or shrubs between the road and a field).
  • Make a judgment about the predominant habitat within 50 meters (yards) of the road (half the length of a football field).
  • If more than one code applies to one place, list the appropriate codes in order from the most to the least predominant (three codes maximum, please!).
  • If there is a building (not permanently abandoned) within 50 meters (yards), record code B first, regardless of what surrounds the building.

Vehicle Count Procedure

The objective in counting vehicles at each stop is to produce information about the overall level of human activity along a route and any changes in this level from year to year.

  • count the number of vehicles during a three-minute period at each stop. Usually you can count vehicles during the same three minutes you count birds. Any contraption moving on the ground with a motor counts as a vehicle!
  • If you extend the three minutes for counting birds to compensate for heavy traffic, do not make an extension for the traffic. Instead just count vehicles during the first three minutes – whether or not the traffic is heavy!
  • If things are happening fast (lots of birds, lots of traffic), then the birds come first! Count the birds the best you can – and estimate (guess) the number of vehicles the best you can.