Breeding Birds

Large woodpecker parent facing two baby woodpeckers vocalizing from their hole in a dead tree
Pileated woodpeckers

Bill Tucker

Importance and Issues

Avian species in the mid-Atlantic region face numerous habitat threats including urbanization, conversion to agriculture, and fragmentation. National parks provide refuge from such threats, containing contiguous tracts of various habitat types such as forests, wetlands, and grasslands, that are suitable for breeding birds. Many of the network parks have bird species that are declining throughout their range, emphasizing the need for understanding their status and trends.

Monitoring birds not only provides insights into the long-term trends of avian species composition and relative abundance, but also provides a measure for assessing ecological integrity. Neotropical-migratory songbirds (i.e., warblers, tanagers, and vireos) are sensitive to habitat fragmentation and, hence, are excellent barometers of environmental change or degradation. Birds are good indicators of local and regional ecosystem changes because of their high body temperature, rapid metabolism, and prominent position in most food webs. Detecting early changes in bird population trends may help us identify stressors such as invasive species, fragmentation, and management practices that will help guide future management actions.

Monitoring Objectives

  1. Estimate status and long-term trends in species composition, occupancy, and other indices of abundance for breeding bird populations within MIDN parks.
  2. Estimate status and trends in measures of biotic integrity (Bird Community Indices) for breeding bird communities within MIDN parks.
  3. Evaluate changes in bird populations in forest and grassland habitats relative to park management regimes.
Resource Briefs

Resource briefs are short PDFs summarizing our monitoring programs or results.

Source: Data Store Saved Search 682. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

Monitoring Reports

Periodically, we publish reports that describe what we are learning in the field. These monitoring reports are more in-depth than resource briefs and include data analysis and a discussion of our findings. 

Source: Data Store Saved Search 739. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.


Protocols describe how we monitor. They include a descriptive narrative of what we monitor and why, our field methods, how we analyze and manage our data, and more. All of our protocols are peer reviewed.

Source: Data Store Saved Search 749. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

Species Checklists

Downloadable species brochures and checklists, sometimes including maps, and information on where and when species may be seen.

Source: Data Store Saved Search 742. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

For More Information

Contact Mark Johnson

Last updated: October 17, 2018