We provide a detailed description of a fixed-radius point count method that carries fewer assumptions than most of the currently popular methods of estimating bird density and that can be used during both the nonbreeding and breeding seasons. The method results in three indices of bird abundance, any of which can be used to test for differences in community composition among sites, or for differences in the abundance of a given bird species among sites. These indices are (1) the mean number of detections within 25 m of the observer, (2) the frequency of detections within 25 m of the observer, and (3) the frequency of detections regardless of distance from the observer. The overall ranking of species abundances from a site is similar among the three indices, but discrepancies occur with either rare species that are highly detectable at great distances or common species that are repulsed by, or inconspicuous when near, the observer. We argue that differences in the behavior among species will preclude an accurate ranking of species by abundance through use of this or any other counting method in current use.
© 1986, University Of California Press. View original published article in JSTOR.