eWestern BirdsThe Quarterly Journal of Western Field Ornithologists
Vol. 33, No. 3
Western Field Ornithologists
Patterns of Distribution and Abundance of Migratory Shorebirds in the Intermountain West of the United States
W. David Shuford, Gary W. Page, and Lynne E. Stenzel
ABSTRACT: From 1989 to 1995, we coordinated shorebird surveys in wetlands throughout the Intermountain West. Of 39 species, the American Avocet was the most numerous (280,000 in fall). Population estimates also exceeded 50,000 birds for the Black-necked Stilt (fall), American Avocet (spring), Western Sandpiper (fall and spring), and Long-billed Dowitcher (fall) and 10,000 for the Black-necked Stilt (spring), Marbled Godwit (fall and spring), Least Sandpiper (fall and spring), and Long-billed Dowitcher (spring). Great Salt Lake, Utah, held the greatest numbers of shorebirds (380,000 in fall) followed by the Salton Sea, California (88,000 in fall). Eight other sites held >10,000 shorebirds in spring or fall: Harney Basin, Summer Lake, and Lake Abert, Oregon; Lake Lowell, Idaho; Goose Lake, Oregon/California; Mono Lake, California; and Humboldt Wildlife Management Area and the Lahontan Valley, Nevada. An additional 29 sites held >1000. Shorebirds' distribution in the Intermountain West varied by subregions and habitats. Species also varied from being highly concentrated in large numbers at a few sites (e.g., Marbled Godwit) to being spread in small numbers among many sites (e.g., Killdeer). The single greatest threat to intermountain shorebirds is the scarcity of high-quality water for wettands. The U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan shows great promise, but it will require vigorous regional implementation to stem and reverse the continuing loss and degradation of wetland and upland habitats used by shorebirds.