Habitat and Population Evaluation Team
Midwest Region


Marsh Bird Monitoring Surveys

Virginia Rails, Sora, Virginia Rail, American Bittern

Some of the most common wetland residents are seldom seen, but are frequently heard calling in early spring. Such is the basis of the secretive marsh bird survey that relies primarily on broadcasting taped calls of rails, soras, and bitterns then listening for their response. The survey protocol was designed for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuges by U. S. Geological Survey Scientist Courtney Conway of the University of Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit .

With the rapid rate of habitat change and historic loss of wetlands, it has become increasingly obvious that we need to get a better handle on the population trends of these secretive birds. HAPET scientists are applying this survey protocol across northwestern Minnesota landscapes in an effort to establish base numbers for determining population trends, and also to determine the distribution, habitats, and landscapes selected by marsh bird species.

The USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center and HAPET office began conducting secretive marsh bird surveys in 2002.


Marshbird Road Side Bias Report

Patuxent Marshbird Monitoring Database

National Marshbird Monitoring Program

For additional information about Marsh Bird Monitoring contact:

Diane Granfors
Region 7 Inventory and Monitoring Coordinator
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
1011 East Tudor Road
Anchorage, AK 99503



Cry of the Marsh
Strategic Habitat Conservation
Last updated: February 22, 2010