Thirty-five species of shorebirds either breed (11 species) or migrate (24 species) through the Northern Great Plains. Although species differ somewhat in habitat use and requirements, shorebirds in general are associated with the shallows of wetlands on gently sloping or flat bottoms with sparse to no vegetation. Suitable habitats include mudflats, wetland margins, ephemerally flooded cropland, short- to mid-grass pastures, and riverine edges and sandbars; water can range from alkaline to fresh. Many shorebirds forage for invertebrate prey in these shallows, while some species strongly associated with short-grass habitats forage almost exclusively in adjacent or more distant upland areas. Optimal water depth is related to leg length of individual species (i.e., shorter species forage in shallower water) but generally is in the range of 2-10 cm. Shorebirds require good visibility for predator detection and thus avoid areas with tall vegetation(taller than their heads) that obstruct views. Many migrants are highly gregarious, foraging in flocks of up to hundreds or thousands of individuals, while some breeding species are solitary.



Goals from the Northern Plains/PPR Shorebird Plan (Skagen and Thompson 2000) are:

1) to attain self-sustaining populations of shorebirds breeding in the NP/PPR

2) to ensure that stopover habitat is not limiting for migrant species

3) to identify and fill in information gaps

a. develop spatially explicit monitoring programs to determine population

status (increasing, decreasing, or stable) and provide data for (b.).

b. characterize landscapes that are conducive to high breeding productivity

c. determine vital rates and identify limiting factors of breeding populations

d. choose umbrella species, based on responses to threats and limiting

factors, that represent the needs of multiple species

e. identify factors that may limit the quality of stopover habitat

4) to coordinate with other conservation efforts at multiple spatial scales

NGPJV Shorebirds


Shorebirds > pages 55 - 63.