Canadian Nightjar Survey

Birds Canada


Project name: Canadian Nightjar Survey

Goals : The Canadian Nightjar Survey is conducted in order to contribute baseline monitoring data to the conservation of the Common Nighthawk, the Common Poorwill and the Eastern Whip-poor-will.

Dataset summary : The data set is nightjar occurrence data obtained through citizen science nocturnal road-side surveys. Each survey is a six-minute, passive, unlimited radius point count. The species targeted are, Common Nighthawk, Common Poorwill and Eastern Whip-poor-will; however, other species are occasionally recorded.

Status : Active

Years (comments) : Data are collected using the Canadian Nightjar Survey Protocol developed by WildResearch and partners available:

Season(s) and frequency : Data are collected annually from June 15 to July 15. In areas where Common Poorwill or Eastern Whip-poor-will may be present, the preferred survey window during this period are the two weeks centered on the full moon, as both these species are thought to be more vocal during this period, however, they are still vocal during the rest of the survey window.

Geographic area covered : lberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Qu├ębec, Saskatchewan, and Yukon.

Primary species covered : Common Nighthawk, Common Poorwill and Eastern Whip-poor-will

Field methods : Data are collected through road-side surveys. Survey route selection uses a largely randomised sampling design based on the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) routes. Twelve georeferenced stops placed approximately 1.6 km apart are used. Typically, these are alternate BBS route stops from 1 to 23, though some routes may skip stations to improve the distance between stops. Unless there is a safety issue, the stops used are those used for the BBS. The survey starts 30 minutes before sunset and at each of the stops, participants listen for six minutes, noting nightjar activity in each of the six one-minute periods and reporting each record in each time period using the highest ranked observation code. The highest being W (wing-boom, for Common Nighthawks only), followed by C (call), V (visual) and N (not detected). Each individual is tracked separately. A Repeat box allows participants to record whether they think they are reporting a bird recorded at a previous stop. Surveys are not conducted when the wind speed is greater than Beaufort Scale 3, or rain is stronger than a light drizzle. The temperature at the start and end of the survey is recorded, and at each survey station, the start time is noted along with wind speed, cloud cover, whether the moon is visible or not, the level of background noise, and the number of vehicles that pass.

Data validation : Data are entered by volunteers via the NatureCounts Portal and each data form is then validated by a program coordinator prior to being approved.

Funding sources : The Canadian Nightjar Survey receives funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Users of the information : The Canadian Nightjar Survey is conducted in order to contribute baseline monitoring data to the conservation of the Common Nighthawk, Common Poorwill and Eastern Whip-poor-will. It provides distribution data and will provide long-term population trends for the three species that regularly nest in Canada. The information collected will inform COSWIC documents, and management or recovery plans.

Participants involved in the survey : Citizen Science Volunteers