Peru Coastal Shorebird Survey Protocol

Peru Coastal Shorebird Survey Protocol

The Peru Coastal Shorebird Survey Protocol will be used to estimate shorebird abundance along the Peruvian coastline during February 2010. eBird will be used to report the survey results and there are plans to repeat these surveys in the future.

Site Selection

We will survey completely a set of known estuarine sites along Peru’s coast. Additionally, within three geographic regions subdividing the Peruvian coast, we will randomly create a set of 0.5 km sandy beach and rocky headland segments that will be used to estimate density and total numbers of shorebirds away from estuarine sites; the means and variances for sandy beach and rocky headlands habitats will be generated through stratified sampling estimators. Totals, and variances, for regions and the entire coast will be the sum of the complete counts from all designated sites and the selected beach and headland segments (sensu Andres et al. 2009).

Habitats to be Surveyed

  • Sandy Beach
  • Silt Flat
  • Low Vegetated (emergent vegetation 0.5 m)
  • Shallow Water (water 0.5 m in depth)
  • Rocky Headlands


For each estuarine site, we will delineate the survey area and map potential habitats within each site prior to surveys. Each habitat type should be delineated (and surveyed) separately.

During the field survey we will proof the prepared map and delineate precisely the actual area surveyed.

After the survey, we will measure the surveyed and non-surveyed areas by habitat type. Because density will be used to estimate birds in all unsampled areas within surveyed sites, we need to try to be as accurate as possible. Use a combination of GPS points and maps to delineate surveyed areas.


All habitat types at a site should be delineated on maps. Observers should operate as quickly as possible to minimize movement among habitats at the site (somewhat dependent on bird density, but about sites should be surveyed at about 15 hectares per hour).

Surveys should be done on an incoming or outgoing tide (or, if necessary, at a low tide) to minimize the number of birds roosting in nearby areas or adjacent vegetation. The optimal survey time would be 1-3 hours before or after a low tide (tide tables will be provided).

Only those birds using an area should be counted in counts used for density estimates. That means that only those individuals actively feeding, roosting, swimming, or standing within the boundaries of the survey area should be counted (this can include birds that fly and arrive in the survey area during the count, so long as they have not been previously counted). All birds that are identifiable to genera and seen directly outside of the count area or flying overhead should be identified and counted separately (This count should also be taken for the site as a whole, not just for each habitat.)

The following denotes the survey methodology to be employed for each habitat type.

Sandy Beach

Walk the designated 0.5 km segment and tally all individuals encountered by species that are using the area (see above). Take a GPS reading at the beginning and end of each 0.5 km segment. Sampled areas will be used to estimate a total for all sandy beaches, by coastal region.

Silt Flat

Open Visible – This category refers to intertidal mudflats or sandflats adjacent to lagoons. If no vegetation is present, stop every 400 m and count/identify all individuals within a 200m radius. Be aware of flocks moving between survey stations or being pushed ahead of observers along a transect.

Open Partially Visible – This category refers to those areas that cannot be directly accessed, but can still be viewed from a distance (e.g. areas across a deep canal and over 200m away from the observer). Count all individuals within species groups (genera): Calidrids, Tringids, Charadriids; larger species should still be identifiable. Counts of visible areas will be used to adjust genera-based counts; group counts will be used to estimate density.

Open Un-accessible – Density generated from surveyed areas will be applied to un-accessible areas within a site.

Low Vegetated

Accessible – Areas 100m x 400m will be pre-defined on a map. All observers will walk a straight-line transect along the border of this area (the 400m portion) and count all birds using the area. After that, two observers will walk through an area in a pattern such that each point on the traveled path is never >25 m from any other point on the survey path. They will record species and number of birds flushed while traversing the area.

Un-accessible – Density obtained from the above method will be used to determine density in un-surveyed areas within a site.

Tall Vegetated

This refers to those habitats that include vegetation >0.5m tall and all areas covered by woody vegetation. They will be delineated on the site map, but it is assumed that the density of shorebirds and small wading birds is zero.

Shallow Water

Without Vegetation — This refers to all open lagoons or estuarine areas that are permanently covered by

With Vegetation — This refers to those areas covered by

Deep Water

This refers to all deep-water habitats in which the water depth is beyond in which a shorebird or small wading bird could feed (e.g. deep channels, the middle of large lagoons). These habitats will be delineated on the site map, but it is assumed that density of shorebirds and small wading birds is zero.

Rocky Headlands

Walk the designated 0.5 km segment and tally all individuals encountered by species that are using the area. Take a GPS reading at the beginning and end of each 0.5 km segment. Sampled areas will be used to estimate a total for all rocky headlands, by coastal region.

Data Entry

We will use the Coastal Shorebird Survey portal in eBird Peru for all data entry pertaining to the survey. This portal can be found by going to All data entered will be accessible through the Avian Knowledge Network ( where it can be queried through a protocol search. Below are the steps necessary in order to enter the survey data into the Coastal Shorebird Survey portal.

  1. Visit the eBird Peru data entry section
  2. After you have registered, please go to the “Submit Observations” section (this button should be visible at the top of your screen) and sign in. If you have not previously registered with eBird, you will be asked to do so now
  3. Next choose “Find it on a Map.” This will prompt you to enter the state and country from which you are entering data. Choose the department appropriate for your survey site and then add “Peru” to the blank beside “Country.” Doing this will open a map of the department that you chose. Find your site on the map and try to pinpoint as exactly as possible the area for which you are entering data. Please name the site the same name as appears on the top of your site instructions (e.g., Pantanos de Villa).
  4. Once you have identified the site, proceed to the next page. Here you will need to choose “Coastal Shorebird Survey” as the protocol that you will be using to enter data. On this page please also enter the total size of the area that you surveyed or, for the beach and rock shoreline surveys, the total distance that you walked. For the beach and rock shoreline surveys, you should also enter the starting GPS coordinates for your survey. Enter the start time, the duration of time spent surveying the area, and the number of observers present during the surveys. Finally, choose the type of habitat that was present for the area you surveyed—note that for each different habitat that you surveyed at a site, you should enter a new checklist, you should also enter a separate checklist that will only include the birds you observed flying over the site—from among the general habitat types (e.g., shallow water without vegetation).
  5. Once you have completed that page, you will move onto a page containing a checklist for all of the birds potentially observable in your department. Here you should enter the exact number of each species that you counted from within your survey area—note that you should enter all of the birds seen flying over the site on a separate checklist. For those areas that required two transects (e.g., short vegetation without water) you should enter the birds that you observed from your transect along the border of the habitat. Before you submit this data, be sure to mark at the top of the page that you are entering numbers for all of the species that you identified in the area and that you would like to enter more information about some of your species.
  6. You will now be taken to a page that lists each of the species for which you entered a number on the last page. For those survey types that include a second transect to create a detectability ratio (e.g., short vegetation without water), you should go to the “Notes” section for each of the species you observed and enter here first an “X” and then the number of each species that you observed while walking your zig-zag transect.
  7. After you have entered all of the numbers from the second transect and pressed “Submit,” you will be taken to a summary page that includes the numbers of all of the species that you entered as well as the notes that you listed for each. At the bottom of the page there is a comments section. In this section you should the list all of the GPS coordinates demarcating this site (e.g., for a beach survey, both the starting and ending GPS coordinates). You should also list any other interesting information that might help us later on when we are analyzing the data (e.g., maybe a car drove along the beach during your survey and scared all of the birds).
  8. When you are all done, press “Submit.” Then, if you surveyed other sites or habitats, go back and begin the process again.

by Nathan Senner and Brad Andres