These guidelines for wildlife monitoring mean that nationwide, there are standardized surveys going on, giving the USGS significant insight as to how wildlife populations and species distributions are changing. One of the surveys that we have conducted as part of these protocols include “Secretive Marsh Bird” surveys.
Walking to the first marsh for surveying. Multiple marsh locations are done within
a 4-5 hour window of time during specific weeks of the year.
Like many bird surveys, early morning hours are required, and in this case, they are required along with a portable speaker system. Many of the birds that are obligate marsh birds—meaning they are only found in marshes—are extremely hard to see. In order to survey for them, we play a sequence of bird calls with hopes that these birds will return the call. As with many birds, secretive marsh birds are territorial. Thus, they think the call we play is an obnoxious intruder, and it is their duty to let the intruder know that turf (or surf?) is already taken.
Clapper Rail. Photo by L. Meyers
Green Heron. Photo by M. Godwin.
Least Bittern. Photo by 50birds.com