Surveying birds during the non-breeding season in prairie environments can be difficult because birds are less visible and vocal during this period than they are during the breeding season. We compared the effectiveness of using fixed-radius point counts and rope-dragging transects for surveying non-breeding birds and determining their relative abundances in the Florida Everglades, from November 1997 through January 1998. Effort (person work hours) was compared using species-effort and abundance-effort curves. Relative abundances of total birds, American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus), Sedge Wren (Cistothorus platensis), Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas), and Seaside Sparrow (Ammodramus maritimus mirabilis) were greater using transects. Abundances of other common species were similar using both techniques. More species were detected on transects than on point counts. When considering effort involved, transects detected more total species, but point counts detected a greater total number of birds. Overall, transects took more effort to cover similar amounts of habitat. Differences in detection using these two techniques may be attributed to species-specific behaviors. Research focused on non-breeding season bird communities should consider using rope-dragging transects in appropriate habitat because point counts may underestimate abundances of some species.
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Vol. 71 • No. 2