Migrating shorebird populations using approximately 2% of Louisiana and Texas Gulf Coastal rice fields were surveyed during spring migration (March–May of 1997 and 1998) using biweekly stratified random surveys conducted at 50 roadside survey points and approximately 30,000 shorebirds were observed. Shorebird counts were extrapolated and almost 1.4 million birds in 1997 and over 1.6 million birds of 31 species in 1998 were estimated to use rice field habitat for stopover sites in Louisiana and Texas. Greater than 50% of the estimated North American populations were estimated to use rice field habitats for five species, including a species of concern, Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Tryngites subruficollis) at 187%. Because of predictability of suitable rice field habitat acreage, timing of field preparation and water availability, coastal rice prairies are identified as critical spring migration stopover sites.
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Vol. 35 • No. 3