Atlantic Canada Shorebird Survey

Project name: Program for Regional and International Shorebird Monitoring

Dataset summary : The Atlantic Canada Shorebird Survey is a migration PRISM survey. It was originally developed in 1974 as the Maritimes Shorebird Survey by Canadian Wildlife Service scientists at the same time as similar surveys in the province of Ontario (Ontario Shorebird Surveys) and the northeastern United States (International Shorebird Survey). In 2003, the Maritimes Shorebird Survey became the Atlantic Canada Shorebird Surveys to include Newfoundland and Labrador. The survey was originally designed to identify important shorebird staging habitats and support their management and conservation. As such, the data have been used to guide the management of landscapes for shorebird species through programs such as Environment Canada’s protected areas program, the Ramsar Convention, the Important Bird Areas program and the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. In addition to guiding the implementation of shorebird conservation actions, this project can also help identify at-risk species and provide population trends through time. CWS will use the data collected to help meet obligations under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, and other partnerships such as the North American Bird Conservation Initiative. Regular data collection at over 100 ACSS sites is coordinated by the Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment Canada as a volunteer-based survey that relies on the skills, dedication and long-term support of birders throughout Atlantic Canada.

Year started : 1974

Years (comments) : Data is collected annually

Season(s) and frequency : Spring migration: April 20 to June 9. Autumn migration: July 20 to October 31.

Geographic area covered : Maritime Provinces and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Type(s) of habitat : Ocean shorelines, wetlands, sewage lagoons, beaches, some agricultural lands (e.g., freshly plowed or hayed fields), airstrips

Primary species covered : Shorebirds

Sampling Design : One hundred randomly selected sites for trend assessment. Additional sites are non-randomly chosen by volunteers.

Field methods : Ground surveys. Procedures: count from a designated location, or along a route, the number of each shorebird species present. Effort also made to measure disturbance. Equipment: binoculars or spotting scope, datasheet or notebook, bird ID book and Atlantic Canada Shorebird Survey Guidelines 2014.

Analysis methods : Bayesian statistics used to analyse trends at various time scales (1974-2012).

Data format : Data stored on EC-CWS server and on NatureCounts for external access (

Data validation : Data verified for correct species name and expected occurrence dates when entered; QA/QC on entered records by checking database against field data sheets.Data quality is generally high; collected by very skilled birders, and highly trained biologists. Uncertainty with older data records.