Monitoring Nuthatches and Bachman’s Sparrows

Bachman’s Sparrows and Brown-headed Nuthatches are high profile species on many conservation lands in Florida. Both species have undergone extensive declines in recent decades, and both species also respond to distinctive structural elements within southern pine forests. Bachman’s Sparrows nest and forage on the ground and are intimately linked to areas with diverse, healthy ground cover conditions maintained by frequent prescribed fire. Brown-headed Nuthatches are a primary cavity-nesting species that excavates cavities used in turn by several other species (e.g., Eastern Bluebird, Tufted Titmouse, and Carolina Chickadee).

In response to a request from land managers, we developed a simple monitoring program for Brown-headed Nuthatch (and Bachman’s Sparrow) that can be used by biologists with little previous training or experience (see Survey Procedures link below). The procedures are based on playback vocalizations that increase detection probabilities, and data collected through the program are analyzed using program PRESENCE where presence/absence is used as a surrogate for abundance.

Survey Materials

Survey Procedures