eWestern BirdsThe Quarterly Journal of Western Field Ornithologists
Vol. 52, No. 2
Western Field Ornithologists
Shorebird Surveys of the Lahontan Valley Nevada, 1986–2019, with Recommendations on Monitoring and Management
Stanley Senner, Brian Tavernia, Jenni Jeffers, Monica Iglecia, Bethany Chagnon, and Larry Neel
ABSTRACT: Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge and Carson Lake and Pasture are the key components of the Lahontan Valley wetlands, designated in 1988 as a site of hemispheric importance in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. In 1990, Congress authorized transfer of Carson Lake and Pasture from federal ownership to the state of Nevada, provided that the area be managed consistent with its designation as part of the network. To enhance protection and management of the site, and specifically to inform development of a management plan for Carson Lake and Pasture, we analyzed spring and fall surveys for shorebirds, 1986–2019, archived by the Nevada Department of Wildlife. Over the 34 years of surveys, we documented 28 species, 19 of which occurred in ≥50% of the years surveyed. Annual counts of all shorebirds combined exceeded 100,000 in 24% of the survey years and 20,000 in 94%. Annual counts of the American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana) exceeded 10% (45,000 individuals) of the estimated global population in three years, and of the Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus; 50,000 individuals) in two years. On the basis of their numbers and frequency of occurrence or status as species of national conservation concern, we identified these two species plus nine others as priorities for management. We recommend conducting more consistent surveys and identifying specific opportunities to manage water quantity and quality, vegetation, livestock grazing, or other factors to benefit shorebirds.