Every year, biologists and technicians traipse across mountains, prairies, and deserts to survey breeding birds under the Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions (IMBCR) program. The program, coordinated by Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, is the second largest breeding bird monitoring program in North America, stretching across private and public land from the Great Plains to the Great Basin. View this IMBCR StoryMap for a dynamic look at the program.

Coverage of the Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions (IMBCR) program across multiple Bird Conservation Regions.

The IMBCR program includes a statistically rigorous design based on probabilistic sampling, and a broad network of partners that support the program through funding or data collection. What we learn through annual monitoring and special overlay projects informs management decisions and contributes to bird and habitat conservation. Population estimates for over 300 species are available through the Rocky Mountain Avian Data Center.

Monitoring Objectives

Vision Statement: Provide science-based information on bird populations to guide conservation and management decisions.
Mission Statement: Through a collaborative network of scientists, land and wildlife management agencies, conservation organizations, tribes, and private landowners and communities, provide accessible, scientifically defensible estimates of bird density, abundance, occupancy, and trend to inform science-based decisions that help maintain, enhance, and recover bird populations from impacts of natural and anthropogenic factors, and evaluate how landuse decisions affect bird populations, and thus, biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Click here to download the complete IMBCR vision and mission statement.

Specific objectives of the IMBCR program include:

  1. Provide a framework to integrate bird monitoring efforts across Bird Conservation Regions;
  2. Provide robust population density and occupancy estimates that account for incomplete detection and are comparable at different geographic extents;
  3. Use annual population estimates to monitor population trends and evaluate causes of population change;
  4. Provide basic habitat association data for most landbird species to address habitat management issues;
  5. Maintain a high-quality database that is accessible to all of our collaborators, as well as to the public over the Internet, in the form of raw and summarized data; and
  6. Generate decision support tools that help guide conservation efforts and provide a quantitative measure of conservation success.


In 2007, the North American Bird Conservation Initiative developed the report Opportunities for Improving Avian Monitoring. This report outlined goals and recommendations to further improve avian monitoring programs including: using more rigorous statistical methodology, integrating monitoring programs, and making data and results widely accessible to land managers and the public. With these recommendations in mind, bird conservation partners from across much of the western United States have collaborated to design and implement a broad-scale, all-lands monitoring program known as Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions (IMBCR).

The IMBCR program was pilot tested in Colorado in 2008, and has since expanded throughout the Great Plains and western US.


Using the intersection of Bird Conservation Regions and state boundaries as the primary level of stratification, strata are defined by IMBCR partners based on areas to which inferences are needed, such as an individual national forest. We select spatially balanced samples within each stratum, allowing changes in sampling effort for fluctuating budgets or addressing management questions.

This sampling design allows comparison of bird populations across spatial and temporal scales.  Technicians survey birds for 6 minutes at up to 16 points within a transect. Observers record distances to each bird and the minute interval for each detection.  We use these data to estimate detection probabilities for density, occupancy, and population trend estimates.


Access past and current IMBCR field protocols on the IMBCR Resources & Applications webpage.


Arizona Game and Fish Department, Audubon Dakota, Audubon New MexicoAudubon RockiesColorado Parks and WildlifeColorado State Land BoardGreat Basin Bird ObservatoryGreat Northern Landscape Conservation CooperativeGreat Plains Landscape Conservation CooperativeIntermountain Bird Observatory, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Klamath Bird Observatory, Knobloch Family Foundation, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks,  National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Natural Resource Conservation ServiceNebraska Game and Parks CommissionNew Mexico Game and FishNorth Dakota Game and Fish DepartmentNorthern Great Plains Joint VentureOklahoma Department of Wildlife ConservationPlaya Lakes Joint Venture, Ricketts Conservation Foundation, South Dakota Game, Fish and ParksTexas Parks and Wildlife, Tracy Aviary, The Dolores River Restoration Partnership, US Bureau of Land ManagementUS Department of DefenseUS Farm Service AgencyUS Fish and Wildlife ServiceUS Forest Service, US National Park Service, University of MontanaUtah Division of Wildlife ResourcesWorld Wildlife FundWyoming Game and Fish DepartmentWyoming Natural Diversity Database


Visit here to access IMBCR-related resources, such as publications, annual reports, and factsheets.

To request raw IMBCR data for analyses or other purposes, please complete this form.

For more information:

Chris White
Director of Science Operations
(970) 482-1707 x 24