Document Type


Publication Date



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Division of Forestry and Natural Resources


Avian monitoring strategies are usually linked to bird singing or calling behavior. Individual availability for detection can change as a result of conspecific factors affecting bird behavior, though the magnitude of these effects is difficult to quantify. We evaluated behavioral and temporal factors affecting Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) breeding season individual availability for detection during three common survey times (3 min, 5 min, 10 min). We conducted 10-minute surveys associated with radio-collared male Northern Bobwhites on Peabody Wildlife Management Area, Kentucky, from 2010–2011. We homed to within 50 m of radio-collared males and recorded number of distinct Northern Bobwhite whistles (singing rate) per 1-minute interval, number of other males calling during the survey, minutes-since-sunrise, and day-of-season. We also recorded the number of minutes during a 10-minute survey that radio-collared male Northern Bobwhites called. We used logistic regression to estimate availability of radio-collared individuals for 3-minute, 5-minute, and 10-minute surveys. We also modeled number of minutes during 10-minute surveys that radio-collared Northern Bobwhites called, and we modeled singing rate. Individual availability for detection of radio-collared individuals during a 10-minute survey increased by 100% when at least 1 other Northern Bobwhite called during a survey (6.5% to 13.1%) and by 626% when 6 other Northern Bobwhites were calling (6.5% to 47.6%). Individual availability was 30% greater for 10-minute surveys than 5-minute surveys or 55% greater for 10-minute surveys than 3-minute surveys. Northern Bobwhite called most (2.8 ± 0.66 minutes/10-min survey) and at a greater rate (11.8 ± 1.3 calls/10-min period) when at least 5 other Northern Bobwhites called. Practitioners risk biasing population estimates low if individual availability is unaccounted for because species with low populations will not be stimulated by other calling males, are less likely to call, call less frequently, and call fewer times per minute, reducing their individual availability and likelihood to be counted on a survey even when they are present.

Source Citation

Lituma CM, Buehler DA, Tanner EP, Tanner AM, Keyser PD, Harper CA (2017) Factors affecting availability for detection: An example using radio-collared Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus). PLoS ONE 12(12): e0190376. https://


© 2017 Lituma et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

This article was supported by the WVU Libraries’ Open Access Author Fund.

S1Dataset.csv (12 kB)



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