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Uncommon birds in P.E.I. wetlands are a hidden treat to technicians

On the East Coast of Canada, Nelson’s sparrows were found breeding almost exclusively in the salt marshes of N.S., N.B., and P.E.I.
On the East Coast of Canada, Nelson’s sparrows were found breeding almost exclusively in the salt marshes of N.S., N.B., and P.E.I. - Submitted

Secretive birds that are uncommon on P.E.I. show their face

Wildlife technicians and volunteers surveying marshes across P.E.I. were in for a surprise last spring.

Secretive birds that are uncommon to the Island, which include the Virginia rail, Nelson’s sparrow, and gray jay, were found in freshwater, coastal, and forested wetlands.

Bird Studies Canada technicians and volunteers completed 63-point counts, and detected more than 60 wetland-associated bird species.

The surveys were plucked from the Bird Studies Canada’s Maritimes Marsh Monitoring Program, which tracks long-term changes in the health of wetlands and, aims to better understand the stresses to the habitat by surveying the birds that call the wetlands home.

Wetlands are vital for biodiversity; to filter and purify water, protect shorelines, reduce erosion, store carbon, and provide habitat for a diverse range of plants and animals.

But they are under threat.

Pollution, filling, draining and other human impacts are degrading wetlands at an astonishing rate, noted the Bird Studies Canada report.

Data collected from the surveys will provide a baseline to measure future changes in bird communities on PE.I.

Surveys were conducted with support from the Prince Edward Island Wildlife Conservation Fund; P.E.I. Department of Communities, Land and Environment (Forests, Fish, and Wildlife Division); Bedeque Bay Environmental Management Association; and Trout Unlimited Canada (Prince County Chapter).

The Government of Canada, the New Brunswick Wildlife Trust Fund, Ducks Unlimited Canada, and the P.E.I. Wildlife Conservation Fund, support the Maritimes Marsh Monitoring Program.

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