Subject: Re: CBC Accuracy??
Date: Dec 6 21:03:35 1998
From: "Kelly Cassidy" - lostriver at

Jerry Converse writes:

>. I am told that there was one year that
>there were only 6 people to cover 177 square miles. That is 29.5 square
>miles person. Last year there were 16, this year it appears there will
>be 10. Last year there were 81 in the Seattle CBC that is 2.18 square
>miles per person.

Data collection that relies on volunteers is always a delicate balance
between the desired data quality and the limits to what you can ask a
volunteer to do. Compounding the matter is the limited number of the most
highly prized volunteers (those people who are both most knowledgable and
most willing to be inconvenienced in the name of good data collection).

As Jerry noted, the variable number of observers per circle and per year
in each circle makes it more difficult to get meaningful results. Another
problem is that circles are nowhere close to being randomly distributed.
There is a map of the Washington CBCs at the Seattle Audubon site
There are 16 circles (of the 43 at least partly in the state) crammed into
the developed Puget Trough area between Bellingham and Olympia, and these
circles tend to have the highest participation. Circles further away from
population centers tend to have low participation, and one (the Quillayute
circle) is cancelled this year because of lack of interest. Who wants to
drive a gazillion miles to the rain forest at the peak of rainy season and
spend a wet miserable day counting chickadees when you can drive a few
blocks and pick up a latte every hour as you count crows in Seattle?

My first reaction to the CBC map was that every other Puget Trough circle
should be eliminated. If they are having the effect of draining volunteers
away from less convenient circles, that would improve the overall state CBC
representation. Upon further consideration, however, I suspect that most
former volunteers for the eliminated circles would merely move to a
neighboring Puget Trough circle, thus gaining nothing and losing coverage.

I like Jerry's idea for a future web site where a coordinator could keep
updated volunteer counts/circle posted so that people might be more
encouraged to participate in less popular counts. Emphasizing, like Jerry,
the VOLUNTEER aspect of choosing a circle and not pressuring anyone to do
something they don't want to do.

Kelly Cassidy
Seattle, WA