Land birds across the state will again be surveyed this spring by staff from the Avian Science Center at the University of Montana and the Montana Natural Heritage Program.

The songbird survey began in 2009 with observations on the density and numbers of various bird species and where they occur.

Knowing the general abundance of birds that live in the state and where they can be found is an important first step in planning future conservation efforts for these species,” said Catherine Wightman, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ coordinator for the bird monitoring program.

For example, Sprague’s Pipit is a species we know very little about that was recently listed as a candidate species under the Endangered Species Act.

“To effectively conserve this species it is essential to know where these birds occur and to use that knowledge to plan cost-effective, measurable ways of helping to sustain their numbers,” Wightman said.

The bird monitoring also supplies information on the general population size of individual species, for example the 2010 study results suggest there are about 7 million western meadowlarks in Montana. The western meadowlark was designated the state bird of Montana in 1931.

FWP’s bird conservation work is aimed at maintaining common bird species and keeping rare or sensitive species from being listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Support for songbird monitoring comes from FWP, the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative and the Intermountain West Joint Venture. The Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory developed the methods and analyzes the annual data.

To learn more about the avian information collected by the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, go to the rmbo.org website and visit the RMBO Avian Data Center. Birders can choose a species and select Montana to obtain online maps showing where monitoring occurred in the state for that species and whether birds were located there.