Point counts are the method most commonly used to estimate abundance of birds, but they often fail to account properly for incomplete and variable detection probabilities. We developed a technique that combines distance and double-observer sampling to estimate detection probabilities and effective area surveyed. We applied this paired-observer, variable circular-plot (POVCP) technique to point-count surveys (n = 753) conducted in closed-canopy forests of southeast Alaska. Distance data were analyzed for each species to model a detection probability for each observer and calculate an estimate of density. We then multiplied each observer's density estimates by a correction factor to adjust for detection probabilities <1 at plot center. We compared analytical results from four survey methods: single-observer fixed-radius (50-m) plot; single-observer, variable circular-plot (SOVCP); double-observer fixed-radius (50-m) plot; and POVCP. We examined differences in detection probabilities at plot center, effective area surveyed, and densities for five bird species: Pacific-slope Flycatcher (Empidonax difficilis), Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes), Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa), Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus), and Townsend's Warbler (Dendroica townsendi). Average detection probabilities for paired observers increased ≈8% (SE = 2.9) for all species once estimates were corrected for birds missed at plot center. Density estimators of fixed-radius survey methods were likely negatively biased, because the key assumption of perfect detection was not met. Density estimates generated using SOVCP and POVCP were similar, but standard errors were much lower for the POVCP survey method. We recommend using POVCP when study objectives require precise estimates of density. Failure to account for differences in detection probabilities and effective area surveyed results in biased population estimators and, therefore, faulty inferences about the population in question.
Estimaciones de la Densidad y de las Probabilidades de Detección a Partir de Muestreos Utilizando Conteos en Puntos: Una Combinación de Muestreos de Distancia y de Doble Observador