USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station

Pacific Southwest
Research Station

800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.

Research Topics Wildlife & Fish

Bird Monitoring: Landbird Research

Pablo Herrera with a Northern Pygmy Owl

The Redwood Sciences Laboratory has been conducting landbird research in northern California and southern Oregon since 1982 and in Costa Rica since 1994. Our focus is monitoring techniques and bird-habitat relationships.

We have worked closely with other ornithologists, agencies, and non-govermental organizations to refine methodologies for monitoring landbirds and riverine birds, including constant effort banding, censusing, and other techniques.

We are developing predictive models of bird response to habitat change and restoration and creating tools to allow land managers to more accurately assess management efforts on landbirds, as we research the links between birds and their habitats. We also train biologists in landbird monitoring techniques, both as interns with our research projects and through our publications.

We have joined with the Klamath Bird Observatory to form Avian Knowledge Northwest. Our purpose is to serve as a node for data from the Klamath-Siskiyou biorerion with an accessible, on-line database, working with the Avian Knowledge Network at Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Landbird Monitoring Network of the Americas, and several other organizations and individuals.


Featured publications
  • Bander's Merit Badge

    The merit badge system provides clear objectives to a banding trainee, encouraging them in their progress, and at the end of successful completion the trainee is awarded a “merit badge”. It started as a checklist of knowledge that a trainee needs to become a competent bander and is now incorporated into a reference tool for both the trainee and instructor. It is based in large part on the North American Banding Council (NABC) requirements for Bander level certification. The banders' merit badge system was implemented by RSL and members of the Klamath Bird Monitoring Network to continue the improvement of our landbird monitoring techniques training and information exchange.

  • A Tabular Identification Guide for Bird Banding

    "A Tabular Format of Pyle's Ageing and Sexing Methods for Landbirds" (Sakai and Ralph 2002) presents a method of summarizing Peter Pyle's (1997) ageing and sexing guide into a tabular guide that has proven to be extremely useful for both novice and experienced banders. The format we have developed allows quick and accurate assessment of a bird’s species, age, and sex, which is essential to the health of birds captured. In this publication, we give examples of the "Tabular Pyle" for the Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) and the Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia), as well as a comparison of all Catharus thrushes.

    Full or partial copies of the Tabular Pyle are available from the Klamath Bird Observatory. The species covered are listed in the Tabular Guide Species Index. The species list is also available as a downloadable Excel file.

  • Rapid Ornithological Inventory Protocol and Schedule

    We designed this protocol to quickly gain a measure of the relative value of habitats to birds for new study sites as an augment to our regular monitoring. The linked protocol details our Rapid Ornithological Inventory (ROI) Protocol and Schedule.

    It includes procedures for mist-netting, area search censuses, and small owl monitoring, as well as a schedule for a complete ROI, which takes about 3 days for 2 people. For further information, please see the linked protocol or contact C. John Ralph.

  • Additional publications and manuals for monitoring landbirds
Our Cooperators include: