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Collisions with building windows are thought to be a significant source of mortality for urban birds. Past studies on bird-window collisions have used a variety of survey methods to estimate the magnitude of mortality, and few have constructed methods in light of the biases related to scavengers and worker abilities that lead to imperfect detection of carcasses. Adoption of a systematic carcass survey protocol in future studies would reduce site-specific biases and among-site survey variability, which in turn would improve the accuracy of mortality estimates at all scales. We present here a standardized carcass survey protocol that serves two basic functions: (a) it is simple and inexpensive to implement, and (b) it accounts for the removal of carcasses by scavengers and detection of carcasses by field workers. Consistent with these goals, we added a variety of approaches with particular aspects of the protocol for researchers to chooose from depending on the goals of their study. The following topics are addressed in the protocol: 1. Preparing for surveys, 2. Supplies, 3. Frequency of surveys throughout the study, 4. When during the day to complete surveys, 5. Field worker behavior during surveys, 6. The pre-survey carcass ‘clean-up’, 7. How to conduct carcass surveys, 8. Carcass collection and containment, 9. Identifying species of bird carcasses, 10. Data collection and management, and 11. Duration of carcass surveys.
This Pre-Print serves as an early draft of a manuscript that will soon be submitted for peer-review in PeerJ.
Article S1: Carcass survey data sheet template
Researchers may use this template to customize site-specific data sheets for use by field workers. Simply edit the template in a word processor by entering the study site name and the name of each study building. One printed page includes blank data fields for three study buildings.
Article S2. Field carcass survey information sheet
This is a one page 'cheat sheet' that summarizes for field workers the fundamental aspects of carcass survey protocol. The sheet includes lists of information about field supplies needed each day, carcass surveys, processing carcasses, and data sheets. Field workers should include a hard copy of this information sheet in their field supplies and refer to it before, during, and after carcass surveys.
A hard copy of this form should be included in the supplies that field workers carry during carcass surveys. Bird carcass identification tags should be cut out of the page with scissors, filled out in the field with identifying information (including building name and carcass ID number), and included with each bird carcass. See section "8. Carcass Collection and Containment" for details.