A red bird perches high in a tree against a blue sky.
A male scarlet tanager perches in a flowering black locust tree. Photo: NPS

Birds are a valuable part of NCRN park ecosystems that also tell us a lot about the condition of our forests. Outside of parks the degradation, destruction, and fragmentation of forests by development and suburbanization has led to regional and local declines in some populations of forest-nesting bird species and an increase in the use of more stable park forest habitats. Yet park forests are not without their own challenges. Deer browse, tree diseases, insect pests, and invasive exotic plants have reduced nesting sites, food sources, and other parts of a valuable habitat.

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Forest Birds

The NCRN has monitored birds since 2007 at many of the same forest sites used in NCRN forest vegetation monitoring. As a result, this monitoring only accounts for bird species found in forests. Birds are monitored at approximately 385 plots twice every summer for a total of ~770 visits a year. Our hybrid monitoring design uses point-count data recorded in two distance classes: near (under 50 meters) and far (50-100 meters). This approach greatly simplifies the task of measuring distances: it is necessary only to determine if detected birds are within or beyond a specified distance. Using this data, the NCRN calculates long-term trends in bird density and abundance across the network.

Grassland Birds

NCRN began grassland bird monitoring in 2014 at Manassas National Battlefield Park. In 2015 and 2016, grassland bird monitoring expanded to include Antietam National Battlefield and Monocacy National Battlefield. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park was added in 2016.


  • Obtain annual estimates of density and/or indices of abundance for forest-nesting bird species, including those designated as priorities for conservation efforts, across parks in the NCRN network.
  • Estimate long-term trends in density/abundance across parks in the NCRN network.

Species Lists

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Resource Briefs

Source: Data Store Saved Search 1277. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.


Source: Data Store Saved Search 1302. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.


Source: Data Store Saved Search 1613. To search for additional information, visit the Data Store.

Quick Reads

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    Tags: ncrn birds

    Last updated: May 18, 2022