We compared detection rates of passive and playback breeding bird survey techniques on elusive marsh birds - Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps), American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus), Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis), Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola), and Sora (Porzana carolina) - during a two-year study at Lacreek National Wildlife Refuge, in southwestern South Dakota. We conducted 151 passive point counts followed by playback-response surveys at the same points in marsh-bird habitat on the refuge. Playback surveys detected secretive water birds more frequently than our passive surveys, increasing rates for each species by factors of 2.4 to 7.0. The distance a bird was detected from a point varied with the species and the survey technique.
Additional publication details
Comparison of detection rates of breeding marsh birds in passive and playback surveys at Lacreek National Wildlife Refuge, South Dakota