Volunteer Bird Monitoring at Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial

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.
Central Hardwoods Bird Conservation Region Map.
Figure 1. Central Hardwoods Bird Conservation Region.



For details on methods of bird surveys see Peitz et al. (2008).
  • Bird communities were monitored at 8 points by Jennifer S. Thompson and Amy R. Steeples between April 26th and April 28th.
  • 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 (Mumford and Keller 1984).
  • Using hot-spot-analysis in ArcGIS, areas of higher and lower species richness on the memorial were determined.
  • Calculated number of individuals encountered per plot visit, and proportion of plots occupied by a species.
Hot Spot Analysis of volunteer bird data from Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial
Figure 2. Concentrations of plots with high (yellow) to higher (red) and low (light blue) to lower (dark blue) breeding bird species richness at Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, Indiana in 2017


Summary of Findings:

  • Nineteen bird species were observed during surveys. Seventeen of the 19 species are resident or summer resident species thus considered breeding species at LIBO (Table 1).
  • The most commonly occurring and widespread bird on LIBO was the Red-bellied Woodpecker.
  • No species of conservation concern was recorded for the Central Hardwoods Bird Conservation Region (Figure 1).
  • Hot-spot-analysis showed lower than expected species richness on the southern half of the Memorial (Figure 2).
Table 1. Number of individuals encountered per plot visit, and proportion of plots out of eight occupied by breeding bird species at Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, Indiana 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


Individuals / plot visit
Proportion of plots occupied
American Crow R 0.25 0.25
American Robin R 0.13 0.13
Black-capped Chickadee T 0.13 0.13
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher SR 0.13 0.13
Blue Jay R 0.38 0.38
Brown-headed Cowbird R 0.50 0.13
Carolina Wren R 0.25 0.25
Downy Woodpecker R 0.13 0.13
Eastern Bluebird R 0.13 0.13
Golden-winged Warbler M 0.25 0.13
Killdeer R 0.30 0.30
Mourning Dove R 0.13 0.13
Northern Cardinal R 0.88 0.88
Pileated Woodpecker R 0.13 0.13
Red-bellied Woodpecker R 1.00 0.88
Red-tailed Hawk R 0.13 0.13
Red-winged Blackbird R 0.13 0.13
Tufted Titmouse R 0.75 0.63
Turkey Vulture R 0.38 0.13

1 Residency status: M = Migrant; R = year around resident; SR = summer resident; T = Transient (Mumford and Keller 1984).
Bolded species names are those species considered of conservation concern for the Central Hardwoods Bird Conservation Region (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