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The 2017 Tricolored Blackbird Statewide Survey will be conducted over three days - April 7th through the 9th, 2017. In case of severe weather, the Survey will occur over the weekend of April 21st through the 23rd. This year's statewide survey is especially important due to the recent steep decline in abundance of the species and because the results of this year's survey will help the Department of Fish and Wildlife to assess the bird's status and may play a large role in justifying the Department's recommendation to the Fish and Game Commission on whether to list the species under the California Endangered Species Act.
This year's survey is being coordinated by Dr. Bob Meese, U.C. Davis. As with the 3 prior statewide surveys, the 2017 statewide survey utilizes local experts who serve as county coordinators to assemble survey teams, to ensure coverage, and to enter records of observations when the survey is complete.
We are currently pairing volunteer participants with county coordinators to survey both historical colony locations as well as to survey in appropriate regions and habitats for new, previously undocumented colony locations and to estimate the numbers of birds at occupied sites. No prior experience is necessary and any level of commitment, big or small, is welcome to help to make this year's survey as complete as possible.
How to Participate
County coordinators will assemble teams to survey for breeding tricolors within specific counties. Requests for assistance will be posted to Central Valley Birds and other listservers and announcements made within local Audubon chapters to recruit additional volunteers. Reply to these requests to express interest in participating in this year's Statewide Survey. You may also express your interest in participating by clicking on the Contact Us link on the Home Page. You will need to be associated with a county coordinator, who is responsible for assembling survey teams, organizing survey routes, and for ensuring that all existing locations in the county are surveyed during the 3 day survey weekend.
Recording Your Observations
While conducting the survey, each team will need to record its observations on dedicated Field Forms, see below. When your survey is complete, the records of your observations will need to be entered into the Portal.
It is left to the discretion of the county coordinator to determine whether only the county coordinators or individual team members will enter the results of the survey into the Portal. If you are responsible for data entry, after surveying for tricolors you will need to enter records of your observations into the Portal. An account on the Portal is required for data entry. If you do not have an account on the Portal, click on Contact Us on the Home Page and request one.
There are two kinds of records in the Portal: records of Locations, and records of Observations of birds at locations. All records of observations of breeding birds must be associated with location records, so if you have observed birds breeding in a previously unknown location, the first step in the process of data entry is to add records of new locations (sites where birds were observed breeding for the first time). If you have not found birds breeding in new locations, begin the data entry process by entering records of observations. Please enter records of observations for all locations, whether occupied or not - records of observations of unoccupied locations are as important as are those of occupied sites for us to assess the health of the population!. And records of new locations are especially important to accurately identify current breeding sites and to assemble a comprehensive database of breeding locations for the triennial Statewide Survey.
Entering Records in the Portal:
1. You must have an account to log in to the Portal. If you do not have an account on the Portal, request one by clicking on the Contact Us link at the top of the Home Page, fill out the Contact form and select New Account Request from the Category pulldown menu. You will receive an email with new account information within 24 hours.
2. If you have found birds at new, previously unknown sites that are not currently in the Portal, begin by adding records for new colony locations. Begin by clicking on "Add Location" from the Observer Menu on the left. Pick an intuitive location name (see the survey protocol for how to pick a name for the new colony location) and be sure to provide geographic coordinates and driving directions to the new location. Use the data from the report form used when conducting the survey to populate the Location form, noting especially the nesting substrate type(s) and the distance to water and stored grains. We standardize the location names in an attempt to eliminate duplicate entries for the same site and to ensure an accurate statewide count.
3. If you have not observed birds breeding in new locations or you have already added new Location records, add records of Observations (either an estimate of the number of birds at occupied sites or to confirm the absence of birds at unoccupied sites) by clicking on "Add Observation" from the Observer Menu item at the left. Select your name from the pulldown menu of Observers (by default, the name person who logged on is displayed), select a Location from the pulldown menu of Locations, select "2014 Statewide Survey" from the pulldown menu of Data Sources (the default data source), then fill in the date and time of your observation. If there were no birds seen at a location, click in the check box to the left of the text "Click this box to confirm 0 (zero) birds present at location", enter an estimate of the number of minutes spent at the site, then click on Save. If a location was occupied, enter your best estimate of the number of birds observed, then enter the minimum and maximum estimates of the number of birds observed, select the type and precision of your estimate from the pulldown menus, record the number of minutes that you spent observing the site, note any behaviors that you observed and record colony attributes, enter any comments that you might have then click on Save. You may click on Preview to look at your completed Observation record before it is saved, and then click on Save to save this record to the Observation database. Continue to add Observation records until you have added one Observation record for each of the locations you visited during your survey.
4. If you have any trouble entering data into the Portal, please contact Bob Meese (email@example.com)