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Maritimes Marsh Monitoring Program

Photo: Cody Pytlak

Get Involved:

The Maritimes Marsh Monitoring Program offers a unique and rewarding opportunity to contribute to the knowledge of wetlands and their conservation. If you enjoy being surrounded by nature and have a knack for identifying birds, you can become a Volunteer Marsh Monitor. Your results help track long-term trends in species diversity, and guide conservation, restoration, and management programs for marshes and their inhabitants.

Volunteering consists of visiting your survey route (consisting of 3 to 10 points) twice between late May and mid-July. You will collect data on the species you find at each of your points and, if you’re comfortable, habitat data as well. If you’re able to commit to visiting your route each year, so much the better! We find our volunteers become quite attached to their route, becoming familiar with the birds they meet there every spring.

American Coot Photo: Lucas Berrigan

We ask that volunteers are comfortable identifying most marsh birds, but in particular you need to know our twelve primary species by sight and sound:


American Bittern American Coot
Least Bittern Common Gallinule
Pied-billed Grebe Nelson’s Sparrow
Sora Marsh Wren
Virginia Rail Black Tern
Yellow Rail Willet

For help brushing up on your identification (or learning new species!) click here for a list of resources.

The time commitment for volunteering is about 12 hours per field season, not including your commute to and from your route:


  • Read over the protocols and brush up on your bird ID
  • Survey on two clear, still mornings (at least 14 days apart) between June 1-June 30 (can extend to July 15 if necessary)
  • Arrive at your first point in time to start your first survey 30 minutes before sunrise. Surveys must finish before 10am, but most are finished between 7:30-9am, depending on the number of points you have
  • Complete all points in your route consecutively (i.e., don’t do your first few surveys, take a coffee break, then resume your route later in the morning)
  • Complete the habitat surveys on the way back from doing your second round of bird surveys (or visit a third time), adding an additional 5-10 minutes per point in your route
For more information, contact:

Andrew Coughlan, Director, Quebec at Birds Canada

P.O. Box 6436 STN MAIN
Sackville, NB E4L 1G6

To register for the program and data entry, please go to: NatureCounts – Maritimes Marsh Monitoring Program

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