Philadelphia Breeding Bird Census

Matthew Halley and Tony Croasdale are coordinating a Philadelphia Breeding Bird Census (PBBC) during the month of June 2016. They need your help to scientifically estimate the number of breeding pairs of each species nesting in Philadelphia during the month of June. This is the most comprehensive study of Philadelphia breeding birds yet attempted, and you can contribute in just five easy steps:

  1. Sign up for one or more survey blocks. Check out the spreadsheet and contact Tony Croasdale (
  2. On any dry and convenient day in June, start your survey before 6:30 AM and cover your block as thoroughly as possible. Plan a route that prevents you from counting the same birds twice. Most blocks can be surveyed adequately in ~2 hours.
  3. Keep separate tallies for birds that were detected via singing, and those detected only by sight and/or “calls”. Write a brief mnemonic (e.g., “peter peter” for Tufted Titmouse, “jay! jay!” or “queedle” for Blue Jay) to specify which vocalizations your heard. In many species male “sing” and females do not, although both sexes will often give short “calls”. Distinguishing these in the survey will enable us to estimate the number of breeding territories for each species, by tallying the number of birds and how they were detected.
  4. Take detailed notes of any nests you discover and other breeding activities you see, like a bird carrying food or nest material. Use the ‘Breeding Codes’ on your eBird list to submit your data, and enter notes into the comments section. Here is an example of how it should look:
  5. Submit your data to eBird and email the link to:


This is the inaugural year of a project that (we hope) will continue in future years, inspired in large part by the mid-winter bird census, now a 30 year tradition. Please join our effort to document the distributions of breeding birds in Philadelphia!

Take a look at the survey blocks below, and contact Tony Croasdale ( to let him know!

Spreadsheet of Survey Blocks
(Please note that the above link is view only.)