US Geological Survey



John R. Sauer

Document Type


Date of this Version



U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1422, 255 p.


Published in Perry, M.C., ed.


The North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) is a roadside survey of the breeding birds of North America. The BBS provides data from the contiguous United States, Alaska, southern and central Canada, and northern Mexico. Begun in 1966 by Chandler (Chan) S. Robbins at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (Patuxent), and now jointly managed by Patuxent, the Canadian Wildlife Service, and the Mexican Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity, the survey is conducted primarily in June along more than 5,000 roadside survey routes that are surveyed once each year. Volunteer observers drive the 39.4-kilometer (24.5-mile [mi]) routes, stopping approximately every 800 meters (m) (0.5 mi) to conduct fifty 3-minute point counts during which they record all the birds heard or seen within a 400-m (0.25-mi) radius of the counting location. Observers submit their data for each stop along their routes to the BBS offices in their respective countries, after which the information is made available to the public.