Stopover locations represent critical habitat in the life cycle of migratory birds and the alteration of this habitat can profoundly influence a population. American Golden-Plovers (Pluvialis dominica) migrate though the Midwestern United States each spring, where most natural habitat has been converted to row crop agriculture. We investigated the stopover ecology of the golden-plover in the agricultural matrix of east-central Illinois and west-central Indiana between 2008 and 2012. We found that golden-plovers remained in the region for ∼45 days and individuals spent on average 24 days in the area before departing to the northwest. During a period of peak migration, golden-plovers preferred fields with standing water and, to a lesser extent, soybean fields. Over the 45-day stopover duration, golden-plovers moved extensively (shown by a dynamic occupancy model and area used estimation), with some evidence for tilled fields becoming unoccupied at greater rates than untilled fields. The tendency to use fields with standing water and the movement of individuals from tilled fields suggests that food accessibility, rather than food abundance, is likely a critical factor associated with the prolonged stay, movement, and field type selection of golden-plovers. Food accessibility is important to the golden-plover because they undergo molt into breeding plumage in the region and must refuel for the next leg of their migration. The Midwest is a key stopover location for American Golden-Plovers and promoting foraging conditions by manipulating the drainage of agricultural fields, via the temporary blockage of drain tiles, should be a management focus.
," The Condor 116(2), 162-172, (1 May 2014). https://doi.org/10.1650/CONDOR-13-114.1