eWestern BirdsThe Quarterly Journal of Western Field Ornithologists
Vol. 39, No. 3
Western Field Ornithologists
Shorebird Use of Muted Tidal Wetlands in a California Estuary
ABSTRACT: At Elkhorn Slough, an estuary on Monterey Bay, California, the number of shorebirds using muted tidal wetlands at high and low tide differs significantly. At all seasons, small sandpipers are significantly more abundant in muted tidal wetlands at high tide. In contrast, numbers of the Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus) and American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana) do not differ significantly by tide except in winter, when they are more abundant at high tide. Manipulation of water level by adjustment of tide-gate settings enhances the suitability of muted tidal wetlands for many species. These areas provide an additional habitat dimension within the slough, enabling shorebirds to feed and roost at high tide when fully tidal mudflats are unavailable.