We initiated an inventory and a field test of a protocol that could be used for monitoring marsh birds at the Cape Cod National Seashore in eastern Massachusetts during 1999 and 2000, as part of a more comprehensive national effort. Using cassette tapes during call broadcast surveys, we visited a total of 78 survey points at freshwater, brackish, and salt marsh sites three times on the ground or in canoes during the breeding season (May-June), fall migration (September to November), and twice during winter (December-January). Observer bias on our marsh bird surveys appeared negligible. Although both auditory and visual detection of most species was low (mean ( 0.3 birds per replicate-survey point), we confirmed the presence of seven marsh species, including American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus), Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis), American Coot (Fulica americana), King Rail (Rallus elegans), Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps), Sora (Porzana carolina), and Virginia Rail (Railus limicola). We suspected breeding of Least Bitterns and Soras at Great Pond in Provincetown, and for Virginia Rails at Hatches Harbor, Provincetown. The most frequently detected species were Soras, Pied-billed Grebes, and Virginia Rails. We recommend using call broadcast surveys for these cryptic species to enhance their probabilities of detection.
Additional publication details
Species occurrence of marsh birds at Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts