Indiana’s secretive marshbird program has been documenting our secretive wetland rails, gallinules, and more for five years. In that time we’ve learned more about the nesting requirements for our diverse and hard to study marshbirds.

In partnership with the Indiana DNR and National Audubon Great Lakes, Indiana Audubon assists with the volunteer coordination and data collection each field season. Today, the data being collected is starting to reveal trends on stopover rates, habitat needs, and detectability.

With support from the Efroymson Family Fund, Indiana Audubon moved forward with monitoring for Black Rails, a species that had not been detected in the four years previous. Remote audio-recording units were used to listen for nocturnal marshbirds on select dates this spring and early summer. Using sophisticated software, similar to those that birders use when using the Merlin app, various secretive marshbirds were recorded singing throughout the nesting season. Species recorded included American Bittern, Blue-winged Teal, King Rails, and Marsh Wrens among others.

The major highlight was the successful detection, recording, and documentation of Black Rail at one of the marshbird survey sites. To hear one of the recordings, visit Here. There have been less than 50 total sightings ever in Indiana of this tiny marshbird that takes being secretive to the extreme. Black Rails were listed as federally threatened two years ago under the Endangered Species Act.

“The conservation and research work we’re doing today with the secretive marshbird program better helps us learn the specific habitat requirements that each of these species has, and how to better inform both wildlife areas and private landowners on steps they can do to promote these amazing birds for years to come,” said executive director Brad Bumgardner.

To listen to the Black Rail detected this summer, click Here!

To learn more about the Audubon Secretive Marshbird Surveys, click Here.

To donate towards Indiana Audubon’s research and conservation initiatives, please visit Here.


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