Plum Island Ecosystems LTER Database

Acceptance and utilization of LTER data requires that:

(1) The Principal Investigator be sent a notice stating reasons for acquiring any data and a description of the publication intentions.
(2) The Principal Investigator of the data set be sent a copy of the report or manuscript prior to submission and be adequately cited in any resultant publications.
(3) A copy of any resultant publications should be sent to:

Principal Investigator
Ecosystems Center
Marine Biological Laboratory
7 MBL St.
Woods Hole, MA 02543

Dataset URLs:METADATA: HTML, Rich Text, XML(EML compliant)
DATA: Comma Delimited, Excel file with Metadata and data
Dataset ID:HTL-MAR-BreedingBirds.05
Dataset Title:Surveys of salt marsh breeding birds using point counts
Investigator 1: 
First Name:Robert
Last Name:Buchsbaum
Address line 1:Mass Audubon Society
Address line 2:346 Grapevine Road
Address line 3:
Zip Code:01984
Associate Investigators:
Keywords:PIE LTER, population dynamics, Plum Island, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, Mass Audubon, breeding birds, saltmarsh birds, saltmarsh sparrow, point counts
Abstract:This data set contains the results of point count surveys of breeding birds in the salt marshes of the Plum Island Estuary. Surveys have been carried out each year in June beginning in 2004 and are ongoing. Currently six circles of 100 m radius are being surveyed. Three of the circles are in plots that had been regularly hayed and three in unhayed plots. Currently only one of the plots is regularly hayed.
71 species recorded as of 2011 Most frequently encountered are Agelaius phoeniceus, Ammodramus caudacutus, Tringa semipalmata
Contact: Plum Island Ecosystems LTER Information Manager
The Ecosystems Center
Marine Biological Lab
7 MBL St
Woods Hole, MA 02543
Phone (508) 289 7485
Online URL:
Data File URL
Data File Name HTL-MAR-BreedingBirds.xls
Beginning Date 6/9/2004
End Date 7/10/2015
Number of Data Records 2476
Other Files to Reference
Availability Status 1
Quality Control Information Typically two observers to identify birds. Data entered into spreadsheet and then edited for accuracy
Maintenance Description Data collection is ongoing and updated annually after with the collection of that season's data.
Log of Changes: Version 01, 22Jan2010, metadata and data entry
Version 02: January 20, 2012, updated data and metadata through June 2011. Used MarcrosExportEML_HTML (working)pie_excel2007.xlsm 1/18/12 4:51 PM for QA/QC to EML 2.1.0
Version 03: February 20, 2014, data and metadata updated to comply with importation to Drupal and LTER PASTA. Used MarcrosExportEML_HTML (working)pie_excel2007_Sep2013.xlsm 9/30/13 02:57 PM for QA/QC to EML 2.1.0
Version 04: November 18, 2014, data and metadata update through June 2014 sampling 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 05: January 21, 2016, added new data, data and metadata comply with importation to Drupal and LTER PASTA. Used MarcrosExportEML_HTML (working)pie_excel2007_Jan2015.xlsm 1/15/15 4:26 PM for QA/QC to EML 2.1.0
RESEARCH LOCATION: HTL-TC-Club-Bird-RM1 HTL-TC-Sawyer-Bird-RM2 HTL-TC-Mud-Bird-RM3 HTL-TC-MudWest-Bird-RM4 HTL-TC-Nelson-Bird-RM5 HTL-TC-Pine-Bird-RM6  
Geographic Description RM1: 100m radius circle adjacent to Clubhead Creek, Rowley, MA, Essex County Greenbely Association land RM2: 100 m radius circle - center at edge of Sawyer Creek between Stackyard and Patmos roads on either side of Sawyer Creek, Rowley MA RM3: 100 m radius circle in marsh north of Patmos Road by panne. In Rough Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary, Rowley, MA RM4: 100 m radius circle in marsh north of Far Division Road, Rowley, MA RM5: Nelson Island Creek area off Nelson Island Road. In Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, Rowley, MA RM6: marsh south of Pine Island Road in Newbury, MA  
Location Bounding Box              
West Bounding Coordinate              
East Bounding Coordinate              
North Bounding Coordinate              
South Bounding Coordinate              
OR if single point location              
Latitude 42.74175385 42.74506068 42.75021211 42.74846097 42.74323854 42.77749  
Longitude -70.83718132 -70.8414633 -70.83957595 -70.84788619 -70.83212008 -70.82797  
Taxonomic Protocols Birds identified to species by experienced Mass Audubon and volunteer birders. Sibley used as taxonomic reference.
Organisms studied Accipiter cooperii,Agelaius phoeniceus,Ammodramus caudacutus,Ammodramus maritimus,Anas platyrhynchos,Anas strepera,Anas rubripes,Ardea alba,Ardea herodias,Aves sp.,Baeolophus bicolor,Bombycilla cedrorum,Branta canadensis,Buteo jamaicensis,Butorides virescens,Calidris minutilla,Cardinalis cardinalis,Carduelis tristis,Carpodacus mexicanus,Cathartes aura,Catharus fuscescens,Ceryle alcyon,Chaetura pelagica,Charadrius vociferus,Cistothorus palustris,Coccyzus erythropthalmus,Colaptes auratus,Contopus virens,Corvus brachyrhynchos,Corvus ossifragus,Cyanocitta cristata,Cygnus olor,Dendroica petechia,Dolichonyx oryzivorus,Dumetella carolinensis,Egretta thula,Empidonax traillii,Gallinago delicata,Geothlypis trichas,Hirundo rustica,Hylocichla mustelina,Icterus galbula,Icterus spurius,Larus argentatus,Larus marinus,Melanerpes carolinus,Meleagris gallopavo,Melospiza melodia,Mimus polyglottos,Molothrus ater,Myiarchus crinitus,Pandion haliaetus,Passer domesticus,Phalacrocorax auritus,Phasianus colchicus,Picadae sp.,Picoides pubescens,Picoides villosus,Pipilo erythrophthalmus,Piranga olivacea,Plegadis falcinellus,Poecile atricapillus,Quiscalus quiscula,Rallus limicola,Sayornis phoebe,Seiurus aurocapilla,Setophaga ruticilla,Sialia sialis,Sitta carolinensis,Spizella passerina,Sterna hirundo,Sternula antillarum,Sturnus vulgaris,Tachycineta bicolor,Thryothorus ludovicianus,Toxostoma rufum,Tringa semipalmata,Troglodytes aedon,Turdus migratorius,Tyrannus tyrannus,Vireo olivaceus,Vireo gilvus,Zenaida macroura
Methods:Six count circles have been set up in various locations in the salt marshes of the Plum Island Ecosystem in Rowley and Newbury. Three 10 minute point counts have been carried out between June 1st and the first week of July at each circle. Counts are spaced out so that they are at least a week apart and all six circles are sampled on the same day. The counting period runs from 5 AM through 10 AM.
Initially two observers counted simultaneously and recorded their observations independently. Since 2008, we have adopted the double observer protocol recommended by Nichols, et al. (2000) in order to estimate detection probabilities. If only one observer was available, detection probabilities have been estimated through distance sampling.
To carry out a count, observers enter the circle and proceed to the center, marked with a short pvc pipe. One person serves as the primary observer and the other the recorder and secondary observer. After waiting a minute, the primary observer identifies to species all birds observed visually or detected by songs or calls within a 10 minute count period. The secondary observer records those observations and adds any additional ones that the primary observer missed. Observers distinguish between three distances, 0-50m, 50-100m and >100m (the latter outside the circle). The edge of the circle is marked at various points with stakes to serve as a guide for distance or the distance is estimated using rangefinder binoculars. The two observers switch roles at the next site.

Nichols, J.D., J.E. Hines, J.R. Sauer, F.W. Fallon, J.E. Fallon, and P.C. Heglund. A double-observer approach for estimating detection probabilities and abundance from point counts. Auk 117: 393-408

AOU for codes in data refers to the American Ornithologists' Union (AOU) taxonomy and nomenclature,

Data Table

Variable Name Variable Description Units Measurement Scale Code Information Number Type DateTime Format Missing Value Code Missing Value Code Explanation
DATE Date   datetime     MM/DD/YYYY NA NA = no data
Sanc_Code Mass Audubon sanctuary code   nominal RM=Rough Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary     NA NA = no data
CIRCLE Name of the counting circle   nominal       NA NA = no data
PRIMARY OBSERVER Name of the primary observer   nominal       NA NA = no data
SECONDARY OBSERVER Name of the secondary observer   nominal       NA NA = no data
TIME START time of day count started   datetime     hh:mm NA NA = no data
TIME END time of day count ended   datetime     hh:mm NA NA = no data
Genus generic name of bird   nominal       NA NA = no data
Species species name of bird   nominal       NA NA = no data
Alpha_Code AOU (American Ornithologists' Union) four letter code for that species,   nominal       NA NA = no data
Common_Name AOU common name of bird   nominal       NA NA = no data
IN 0-50m Number of individuals detected within 50 m of the circle center number ratio   whole   NA NA = no data
IN 50-100m Number of individuals detected between 50-100 m of the circle center number ratio   whole   NA NA = no data
IN_Total Total number of individuals detected within the 100 m radius circle number ratio   whole   NA NA = no data
OUT_Total Number of individual identified outside the 100 m radius circle number ratio   whole   NA NA = no data
Flyover Number of birds of each species flying over the count circle without landing or foraging over the circle number ratio   whole   NA NA = no data
COMMENTS comments   nominal       NA NA = no data