Southern Illinois Bird Monitoring Program

The southern Illinois bird monitoring project seeks to document the presence/absence of bird species throughout southern Illinois using Autonomous Recording Units (ARUs). During May - July 2022, we deployed sound recording devices at over 150 different locations spanning the 11 southernmost Illinois counties, resulting in over 2 Terabytes (about half a million minutes) of recordings. Site locations were selected using the block-grid sampling method utilized by the Illinois Breeding Bird Atlas.

The Illinois Breeding Bird Atlas (IBBA) was arguably the most extensive effort ever undertaken in the state of Illinois to document the ranges and populations of bird species throughout the entirety of Illinois, with observations spanning 1986 through 1991. Since then, no effort comparable in scope or thoroughness has been made on a state-wide scale in Illinois to survey bird species distributions and populations. Our team hopes to survey the state of Illinois using the same block-grid sampling method as the IBBA while instead relying on ARUs for data collection, BirdNET Analyzer (a deep artificial neural network) for producing a list of all species possibly present on each recording based on the audio spectrogram, and manual validation to ensure correct species ID by BirdNET Analyzer.

Shasta Corvus’s thesis research will focus on comparing modern bird species distributions with historic records from the IBBA, taking into consideration the many changes between now and then, including landscape changes and individual species conservation status. Current Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) will be of particular interest, and we hope to better our understanding of what specific changes have seemed to benefit (or detriment) specific avian species in different regions throughout the state—especially in locations which are managed with a specific bird species in mind (for example, how might other SGCNs fare in habitats managed with cerulean warbler conservation in mind? How might these findings guide management decisions in the future?). (Photograph copyright: Dave Bowman | Macaulay Library)

Brent Pease, Ph.D.
Brent Pease, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor (he/him)

Brent Pease is an Assistant Professor in the Forestry Program at Southern Illinois University.