The Legacy Avian Noise Research Program is a 5-year study designed to assess the impacts of highway noise on breeding bird communities within the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem. The first year of the study, 2006, was treated as a pilot study that focused specifically on assessing sample size requirements, sampling locations, avian point-count data, and noise data so that study protocols could be refined prior to subsequent monitoring seasons. In 2007 we implemented a refined field protocol and added two critical components, a habitat quality index (HQI) to account for inherent variation in avian point-count data due to variation in habitat quality both within and across seven study sites (Salt Creek Wildlife Management Area, Public Shooting Grounds Wildlife Management Area, Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve, Farmington Bay Wildlife Management Area, Legacy Nature Preserve, Inland Sea Shorebird Preserve, and Timpie Springs Wildlife Management Area), and an avian productivity component to allow us to assess the potential effects of highway noise on nesting success and productivity. The HQI is a habitat-specific, rapid-assessment technique for measuring differences in habitat (e.g., floristics, structure, and quality) that allow us to account for variation in avian point-count data associated with variations in habitat quality rather than noise data. Although the objective of our research is not to assess habitat, the HQI will strengthen any inferences regarding how noise affects breeding bird communities because it accounts for how much of the variation in breeding bird communities results from variations in habitat quality rather than noise.