“How-to” videos for the below instructions can be found under the Learn section
1. Sign up for a Nightjars.org account:
- Visit our sign-up page to create an account if you don’t already have one.
2. Adopt or add a survey route:
Adopting an existing route:
- Use the map on the Select a Route page to find one or more survey routes near you that need to be adopted. Click the “Adopt it” button and your account will be connected to that route.
- Nightjar Survey routes are standardized population counts consisting of 10 roadside stops.
Each of the 10 roadside stops along a route are spaced approximately 1-mile apart.
The starting point of your route is Stop #1 and the remaining should be sequentially numbered Stops 2 through 10.
- WE ONLY PROVIDE THE FIRST STOP FOR NEW ROUTES to allow the surveyor to find a safe place to park for their points. Each of the subsequent 9 points should be placed as close to 1-mile apart as possible. It is better to increase this interval than decrease to avoid double-counting the same area. REMEMBER TO WRITE DOWN YOUR LATITUDE AND LONGITUDE IN THE FIELD (easily acquired through GoogleMaps)
- *Note: If you are unable to continue monitoring a route, you can click the “Retire from this route” button on the bottom of the route page.
Adding a new route:
- New routes should be a continuous 10-mile stretch that does not loop or double-back to reduce double-counting birds. As with established routes, survey points should be conducted approximately 1 mile apart.
You may notice that some states do not have any current nightjar routes in them. This is because those states have their own agencies organizing nightjar surveys. If you are in one of the states below and wish to participate, please contact the relevant agency:
- NJ – NJ Audubon firstname.lastname@example.org
- DE, NY, CT, RI, MA, VT, NH, ME, MI, WI – state wildlife agency
If you live in a state where nightjar routes currently exist, and would like to add a new route, please follow the instructions below:
- Make sure a route does not already exist in your location by checking the Select a Route page: http://www.nightjars.org/routes/select
- Go to your My Routes page ( http://www.nightjars.org/my-routes ), scroll to the bottom, and click on “Click to add a route”.
- Enter a nickname, select the appropriate state from the drop-down menu, and click “Create Route”.
- On the next page, move the yellow marker on the map to your route starting point, or Stop #1. Click the “Save New Location” button. You will be transferred to the survey data entry page. If you have not conducted the survey yet, you can stop here for now. Read the rest of the instructions below to learn how to conduct the survey. Once you have data to enter, move on to step 5 below.
- After survey data is collected: To enter survey data for a route, go to the route page and click the “Enter Survey Data” button near the bottom of the page.
- For each stop, enter the requested data where appropriate. For stops #2 through #10, you can use the map on the right-hand side of the page to enter coordinates or move the marker to the correct stop location. Click the “Save New Location” button to save that stop.
- Now if you go back to the route page, you should see your different numbered stops on the map. At this time, you will not see a red line connecting stops on new routes. In the future, we may have the route lines automatically generated.
3. Decide when to conduct the survey:
- You only have to survey your route ONE TIME per year
Moonlight influences Nightjar calling rates. You can only survey during suitable time frames that coincide with bright moon nights within these 2023 dates:
Window 1: FL, TX, and low elevation AZ* and NM: 28 Mar-13 April
Window 2: Southern US (MO and all areas south): 27 April-12 May
Window 3: Any location in the country: 27 May-10 June
Window 4: Areas north of AZ, FL, NM, and TX and high elevation areas in northern US: 26 June-9 July
Window 5: WA, OR, ID, MT, WY, Dakotas, MN: 25 July-31 July
*AZ participants can click here for additional dates.
- Survey only at night (30 min after sunset) and when the moon is above the horizon. Check your local moonrise forecast here
- Avoid nights with dense cloud cover: Cloudy nights will obscure the moon and quiet nightjars
- Do not survey during precipitation or high winds
4. Learn how to Count Nightjars
- During the survey you will count the total number of nightjars seen or heard over a 6 minutes period per Stop.
- Do not use audio recordings or mimic any vocalizations.
- Do not use a flashlight to spot birds
- We have a special way of counting nightjars that helps us determine detection rates
5. Using the Data Sheet
- Each individual bird you encounter is tracked on a separate line on the data sheet
- You track the detection of every individual bird in 1 minute intervals
- You enter a value of 1 for each 1-minute period you detect the bird, and a 0 for the minute periods you do not detect the individual bird
Using the following abbreviations for each species on the Data Sheet:
ANNI = Antillian Nighthawk
BCNI = Buff-collared Nightjar
CHUCK = Chuck-will’s-widow
CONI = Common Nighthawk
COPA = Common Pauraque
COPO = Common Poorwill
EWPW = Eastern Whip-poor-will
LENI = Lesser Nighthawk
MWPW = Mexican Whip-poor-will
NONE = no birds detected
Enter the values as follows
|Time blocks (minutes of survey)|
At Stop #1, One Eastern Whip-poor-will was heard in the first 3 minutes of the survey
and not heard thereafter.
Also a Chuck-will’s-widow was heard at Stop #1 only during the 3rd through
6th minute of the count
- There were no Nightjars heard at Stop #2 so a value of NONE was entered
At Stop #3, one Eastern Whip-poor-will was heard in the first 4 minutes of survey
and not heard thereafter
Also, another Eastern Whip-poor-will was heard at Stop #3 but only during the 2nd through
6th minute of survey.
- At Stop #4, no nightjars were detected so a value of NONE was entered for this Stop.
Tracking individual birds, minute by minute, helps us to determine detection rates and strengthens the ability to make conclusions about collected data.
6. Enter your data online:
- Enter data as explained above in #5 by going to your My Routes page and clicking the “Enter Survey Data” on the individual route page.
Adding/editing stop coordinates after a route is created.
- When creating a new route you’re only required to add/save a starting point. After you’ve created the route, you can add or change route stop coordinates at any time. To do this, follow these steps:
- 1. Go to the route page and click on “Enter Survey Data” button near the bottom of the page.
- 2. If you have survey data to enter, select the survey dates and times. If you don’t have actual survey data to enter, but still want to add/edit stop coordinates, leave the Start and End times blank and click on “Begin Entering Survey Data.”
- 3. Click on “Stop 1” near the top if your browser does not automatically send you to the stop 1 page.
- 4. Use the map on the right-hand side of the page to enter coordinates, or move the marker with your mouse to the correct stop location. If you move the marker with your mouse, the coordinates below will change with it. Click the “Save New Location” button to save that stop. If you have survey data to enter, do so, then click on “Save Nightjar data for this stop” at the bottom to move to the next stop. If you do not have survey data to add, leave the other data blank and click on the “Stop # ->” links near the top to move to the next stop.
- 5. Repeat Step 4 to enter survey data and/or edit stop coordinates where needed for stops #2-#10.
- 6. If you have added actual survey data, go to the Summary page and click “I’m finished! Submit this survey.” If you only edited stop coordinates, do not submit the survey. Instead, if you go back to the route page by clicking the name of the route hear the top (Home > My Routes > [route name]), you should see your different numbered stops show up on the map. At this time, you will not see a red line connecting stops on new routes. In the future, we may have the route lines automatically generated.
If you have additional questions, feel free to email us at email@example.com.