Volunteer Bird Monitoring at Hopewell Culture National Historical Park

Birds are an important part of the world we live in. They eat pests, spread seeds, pollinate plants, feed us, and provide enjoyment. And, they are beautiful, flying creatures. Who hasn’t wanted to soar like a bird at one time or another? Birds are a significant component of park ecosystems. Their habitat requirements and diverse diets make birds good indicators of changes in an ecosystem – the canary in the coal mine, so to speak. But, many grassland and woodland birds are declining in number. There are many reasons, such as habitat loss, global warming, wind turbines, and cats.

We track the types and numbers of birds that nest in national parks to determine the health of bird communities. We do this by surveying birds during the breeding season. We also characterize their habitat. For example, the amount of forest and grassland, and vegetation structure. Over time, we look for trends in the community. For context, we compare our findings to trends in the region. Long-term population trends in the bird community help us to assess the quality and sustainability of park ecosystems.
Map of Appalachian Mountains and Eastern Tallgrass Prairie Bird Conservation Regions.
Figure 1. Appalachian Mountains and Eastern Tallgrass Prairie Bird Conservation Regions.


For details on methods of bird surveys see Peitz et al. (2008).
  • Bird communities were monitored at 28 points by Andrew L. Molloy, Jason R. Snider, Jacob J. Sisler and Nathan Stricker, between May 30th and June 1st.
  • All birds seen or heard in a 5-minute sampling period at each plot were recorded.
  • Residency status of each species was established prior to analysis of the data (Peterjohn 2001)
  • Using hot-spot-analysis in ArcGIS, areas of higher and lower species richness on the park were determined.
  • Calculated number of individuals encountered per plot visit, and proportion of plots occupied by a species.
Hot Spot analysis map of volunteer bird data at Hopewell Culture National Historical Park.
Figure 2.Concentrations of plots with high (yellow) to higher (red) and low (light blue) to lower (dark blue) breeding bird species richness at Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, Ohio in 2017.


Summary of Findings:

  • Sixty-five bird species were observed during surveys. All species are resident or summer resident species thus are considered breeding species at HOCU (Table 1).
  • The most commonly occurring and widespread bird on HOCU was the Red-winged Blackbird.
  • Seven species are species of conservation concern (Table 1) for the Appalachian Mountains and Eastern Tallgrass Prairie Bird Conservation Regions (Figure 1).
  • Hot-spot-analysis showed slightly higher than expected species richness on the Hopeton Earthworks Unit and lower than expected richness on the Mound City Unit of HOCU (Figure 2).
Table 1. Number of individuals encountered per plot visit, and proportion of plots out of 27 occupied by breeding bird species at Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, Ohio during the 2017 bird surveys. Number of individuals per plot, and proportion of plots occupied includes all individuals recorded on plots during a 5-minute survey, including flyovers.
Common name Residency1 Individuals / plot visit Proportion of plots occupied
Acadian Flycatcher SR 0.04 0.04
American Crow SR 0.54 0.32
American Goldfinch SR 0.71 0.36
American Redstart SR 0.04 0.04
American Robin R 0.75 0.46
Bank Swallow SR 0.21 0.11
Baltimore Oriole SR 0.18 0.11
Barn Swallow SR 0.57 0.25
Black Vulture R 0.04 0.04
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher SR 0.14 0.11
Blue Jay R 0.20 0.20
Bobolink SR 0.04 0.04
Brown-headed Cowbird SR 0.29 0.25
Brown Thrasher R 0.11 0.11
Canada Goose R 0.54 0.04
Carolina Wren R 0.07 0.07
Cedar Waxwing SR 0.11 0.07
Chipping Sparrow SR 0.07 0.07
Cliff Swallow SR 0.07 0.04
Common Grackle R 1.18 0.32
Common Yellowthroat SR 0.82 0.43
Dickcissel SR 0.90 0.30
Downy Woodpecker R 0.07 0.07
Eastern Kingbird SR 0.10 0.10
Eastern Meadowlark SR 1.50 0.54
Eastern Towhee SR 0.11 0.07
Eastern Wood-pewee SR 0.18 0.14
European Starling R 1.25 0.29
Field Sparrow SR 0.80 0.50
Gray Catbird SR 0.32 0.29
Grasshopper Sparrow SR 0.39 0.21
Hairy Woodpecker R 0.04 0.04
Henslow’s Sparrow SR 0.79 0.18
House Sparrow R 0.07 0.07
House Wren SR 0.29 0.21
Indigo Bunting SR 0.29 0.25
Killdeer SR 0.10 0.00
Mourning Dove R 0.57 0.46
Northern Cardinal R 1.00 0.68
Northern Flicker R 0.11 0.11
Northern Mockingbird R 0.07 0.07
Northern Parula SR 0.04 0.04
Northern Rough-winged Swallow SR 0.11 0.11
Orchard Oriole SR 0.14 0.14
Pileated Woodpecker R 0.11 0.11
Prairie Warbler SR 0.11 0.07
Red-bellied Woodpecker R 0.39 0.32
Red-eyed Vireo SR 0.07 0.07
Rock Dove R 0.68 0.07
Ring-neck Pheasant R 0.18 0.11
Red-tailed Hawk R 0.04 0.04
Red-winged Blackbird R 2.61 0.71
Scarlet Tanager SR 0.07 0.07
Song Sparrow R 0.71 0.50
Tree Swallow SR 0.46 0.21
Tufted Titmouse R 0.32 0.29
Turkey Vulture SR 0.11 0.11
White-eyed Vireo SR 0.11 0.04
White-breasted Nuthatch R 0.04 0.04
Willow Flycatcher SR 0.18 0.11
Wood Duck R 0.04 0.04
Wood Thrush SR 0.21 0.14
Yellow-breasted Chat SR 0.14 0.14
Yellow-billed Cuckoo SR 0.04 0.04
Yellow Warbler SR 0.25 0.18

1 Residency status: R = year around resident; SR = summer resident (Peterjohn 2001).
Bolded species names are those species considered of conservation concern for the Appalachian Mountains and Eastern Tallgrass Prairie Bird Conservation Regions (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2008).

Visit the Datastore to download the full report.

Learn more about the Heartland Inventory & Monitoring Network.

Data in this report were collected and analyzed using methods based on established, peer-reviewed protocols and were analyzed and interpreted within the guidelines of the protocols.

Data for year 2018 have undergone quality control and certification, but not previously published.

Last updated: December 3, 2018