The suite of resident, migrant, breeding, and wintering waterbirds depending on this region includes grebes, pelicans, cormorants, anhingas, wading birds, waterfowl, coots, rails, gallinules, shorebirds, gulls, and terns. All taxa now use the artificial freshwater wetland habitat provided by the ag wetlands. These taxa include local, regional, continental and hemispherical populations. Crawfish ponds are especially valuable cool season habitat for predaceous waterbirds because they provide shallow water systems rich in invertebrate and small vertebrate prey during the period from midautumn through midspring when most ricefields are drained. Numerous other bird species use riparian areas around ag wetlands either as residents or seasonal visitors. Over 280 bird species have been identified in and around crawfish-rice systems in Louisiana. Whereas birds are conspicuous species associated with ag wetlands, numerous other vertebrate species including mammals, reptiles and turtles use the habitat. In addition, fishes in waterways receiving pond effluents receive significant food resources when water is released from the ponds.
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Vol. 25 • No. 2