Puget Sound Seabird Survey
Project name: NatureCounts (hosted datasets)
Goals : Our goal is that the Puget Sound Seabird Survey program contributes to a better understanding of the Salish Sea’s marine ecosystem through monitoring marine birds.
Dataset summary : The Puget Sound Seabird Survey is an annual, winter-long survey that engages volunteer bird watchers of all levels placed in teams. Each team is assigned 1-4 survey sites that are surveyed once per month, October through April. Surveyors identify and count all marine birds within 300m and gather measurements that enable calculation of the position of each bird. Data are entered into an online data entry website.
Status : Active
Year started : 2008
Years (comments) : Ongoing
Season(s) and frequency : monthly during winter, October through April
Geographic area covered : Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca - Clallam, Island, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Pierce, Snohomish, and Thurston counties
Primary species covered : All marine birds
Sampling Design : Survey locations are determined by program manager, located on publicly accessible land and have broad visibility of coastline.
Field methods : The Puget Sound Seabird Survey is an annual, winter-long survey that engages volunteer bird watchers of all levels, placed in teams ranging from single individuals up to groups of five. The project aims to place at least one volunteer in each team that has advanced seabird identification skills assessed via an online seabird identification quiz. Each season, survey teams are assigned 1-4 survey sites that are surveyed once per month, October through April. Some survey teams have been surveying the same sites for 15+ years. Surveys are conducted for a minimum of 15 minutes and a maximum of 30 minutes. All surveys are timed to occur within a 4hr window centered on the daylight high tide. All birds sitting on the water are identified to species and counted within 300m of the observer. The bearing to each bird, or group of associating birds, is recorded, as well as the distance measured (mm) from the horizon to the bird, or group of birds, using a 30cm ruler held at arm’s length. Numbers of individuals of sexually dimorphic species are noted. https://www.pugetsoundbirds.org/protocol
Analysis methods : https://peerj.com/articles/704/
Data validation : The program utilizes a tailormade data entry website where volunteers enter data collected in the field. Critical data have required fields prohibiting progression until complete. The website limits various data entry options with curated lists of possible data; these include survey site name, observer name, and species. The website flags numbers of observed individual birds greater than 4 decimal places, prompting a careful review. Metadata options are restricted to radio buttons that standardize descriptions. Entries that contain any errors are flagged in data summary dashboards enabling follow up and resolution. At the end of each season, data are plotted to identify outlying numbers, species and other data anomalies.