clapper rail nest


Secretive Marsh Bird Monitoring

The populations of many species of birds that depend on emergent marsh habitat appear to be declining, but basic information on the population status and habitat requirements of many of these species is lacking. This information is necessary to evaluate the impacts of management actions, climate change and sea level rise on marsh bird populations. Clapper rails, Rallus longirostris, in the marshes of the North Inlet-Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve are being counted using a standardized call broadcast method developed by the U.S. Geological Survey, Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. The effects of habitat type, distance from the marsh/upland edge and the presence of developed upland area on the distribution of rails are being studied using GIS and spatial analysis techniques. The results of this analysis will further our understanding of the habitat requirements of this species and be used to assess the potential effects of land use change and sea level rise on the population status of clapper rails.

Stewardship Issues Addressed

Volunteer Opportunities

Project Area

Project Outcomes/Results




The 2010 monitoring was finished in May. Special thanks to this year’s volunteer team who made the marsh bird monitoring project both a success and enjoyable way to spend the sunrise. Look for information about training and next year’s monitoring in January 2011.

NOAA National Estuarine Research Reserve System University of South Carolina Baruch Institute-USC Belle W. Baruch Foundation