Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Surveys of salt marsh wading birds and shorebirds in Massachusetts at Plum Island Sound, PIE LTER and portions of Essex Bay


This data set is part of a study of how wading birds, primarily Great and Snowy Egrets are using different estuarine habitats at Plum Island Sound. It contains the results of count surveys of wading birds in the salt marshes of the Plum Island Estuary and parts of adjacent Essex Bay. Surveys were carried out from May to October in 2012 and 2013, additional sampling occurred in July 2014 and summer of 2018. Bird counts took place from 37 observation points around the bay and documented species, estimated distance from observer, habitat of each individual bird counted and its behavior (feeding, resting, etc.).

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37 observataion points were set up in different locations throughout the Plum Island estuary and adjacent Essex Bay. Bird counts were carried out biweekly in 2012 and weekly in 2013 from May through the end of September. One coutn was carried out in July 2014
Counts were carried out randomly with respect to tide and time of day. The whole area could be sampled in two days (approximately 6 hours per day) by one team of observers.
Although the focus of the study was on Snowy and Great Egrets, observers counted all the birds visible from each observation point and recorded the following information:
1. species and number,of individuals. Species was recorded using the American Ornithologists Union accepted alpha code (
2. the estimated distance in meters from the observer in concentric bands from the observation point (0-100m and >100 in 2012, 0-100, 100-250, 250-500, 500-1000, >1000 in 2013 and 2014). Most of these estimates were assisted by rangefinder binoculars
3. the number of birds in different habitats (marsh, tidal flat, pannes, open water, rock)
4. the number of birds engaged in different behaviors at each habitat (feeding, resting, preening, alert).
5. Birds flying over the observation area were recorded separately as flyovers

Counts of wading birds and shorebirds in coastal wetlands from vantage points

Raposa, K.B., R.A. McKinney, and A. Beaudette. 2009. Effect of tide stage on the use of salt marshes by wading birds in Rhode Island. Northeastern Naturalist 16:209-224.


Data collection is on going.

Version 01: January 7, 2015, new data and metadata to comply with importation to Drupal and LTER PASTA. Used MarcrosExportEML_HTML (working)pie_excel2007.xlsm 6/30/14 11:33 AM for QA/QC to EML 2.1.0
Version 02: January 22, 2019, data and metadata updates to comply with importation to DEIMS7 and LTER Data Portal. Used MarcrosExportEML_HTML (working)pie_excel2007_Jan2018.xlsm 6/21/18 3:53 PM for QA/QC to EML 2.1.0


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