About Maps
About MAPS

The MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) program was created by the Institute for Bird Populations (www.birdpop.org) in 1989 to assess and monitor the population dynamics of North American land birds.  The program comprises a continent-wide network of constant-effort mist netting stations.  Analysis of the resulting data provides critical information relating to the ecology, conservation, and management of North American land bird populations.

The Major Goals of MAPS:
  • Provide data on vital (productivity and survival) rates to complement count data
  • Identify likely causes of bird population declines

Why Monitor Productivity and Survival?
  • Because they are affected by environmental stress and/or management actions directly and without substantial time lags
  • They are better indicators of habitat quality rather than habitat abundance
  • They provide information on the likely causes of bird population change
  • They provide information on the part of the lifecycle that is limiting for populations
  • They can be used to identify the health and viability of bird populations
  • They can be used to identify population growth and decline

Other Bird Conservation Goals of MAPS

  • To identify likely demographic causes of bird population change
  • Formulate conservation management strategies to reverse declines and
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of bird conservation management actions already implemented

The bird pictures on the right show some species banded at the Environmental Studies on the Piedmont MAPS field station; click on image to enlarge and see identification.

The heading picture to the left is of a Scarlet Tanager.  The heading picture to the right is of an American Goldfinch being weighed.  Putting him carefully upside down in the film canister helps to keep him calm. Weighing takes just a few seconds and is the last measurement we take.  This is because weighing poses the greatest risk of escape.

Notice that the Chickadee to the right appears to be having a bad hair day.  That is because we wet the back of the head to be able part the feathers. We are looking through the skin to see the skull and the amount of ossification.   Songbirds are born with a single layer of bone in the skull and over time, usually within the first year, grow another layer. The two layers are separated by bone columns and air pockets, similar to the trusses of a roof. The process of growing another layer is called skull pneumaticization. The single layer of bone will contrast slightly in color to the double layer.  "Skulling" is one of the techniques we use to age each bird.  Don't worry, we use water, not hair gel, to part the birds feathers, so the chickadee will go back to a good hair day shortly!
Below is a slideshow of a PowerPoint I created explaining a little more in depth about the MAPS program. Click on it to vew it larger.
The above pictures represent the common sequence of skull pneumaticization.  We look for the slight difference in color and texture when skulling.  Trust me when I say the pictures make skulling look considerably easier than it really is!
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