The IUCN-SCC Heron Specialist Group

Censuses and Surveys

Information on the distribution, numbers, and numerical trends of heron species and their populations is essential for conservation planning and action. Yet reliable quantitative information on heron populations, in reality, is not common. Such information begins with inventory, census, and monitoring activities conducted in individual sites and areas. There are many approaches to counting birds, so many that it is confusing. Yet there is a need for both valid methods and for consistency in that methodology, where possible, among those doing this important work.

Inventory and monitoring of herons should be conducted using HeronConservation’s standardized protocols. The standard methods for collecting information on heron occurrence and numbers are found in the Heron Count Protocols document. Data collected on herons should be stored by the observer in ways that are accessible to local management authorities and scientists. In addition, it can be stored on eBird.

eBird is a web-based data base sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  eBird allows documentation of the presence or abundance of a species through submission of a checklist of observations at a specific site. To use eBird, persons submitting information need to register by going to the eBird website. Registered users should also enter information for their regular count sites so as to have a list of “My Locations” readily available for data entry. Counters can then use their user name and password for access, and their list of count sites for data entry. To access eBird or for more information, click on eBird.  Within eBird, data summary, exploration, and analyses are possible by the observer and more exhaustive analyses are possible by downloading the raw data from the eBird data sets of the Avian Knowledge Network.