Rice (Oiyza sativa) is cultivated in 21 countries throughout North, South and Central America, and the Caribbean. Waterbird and landbird use of rice paddies in the Americas was evaluated. Information was compiled on birds and rice habitats from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, USA and Venezuela. At least 169 waterbirds belonging to 21 families and 166 landbirds have been recorded in the paddies of the region. Anatidae was the best represented family, followed by Scolopacidae, Rallidae and Ardeidae; 67% of species belonged to these four families. Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis), Western Great Egret (Ardea alba), Snowy Egret (Egretta thula), Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) and Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) were reported in all countries, but relative abundances varied. During the rice-growing cycle, fields were most important for carnivorous birds during the sowing stage, whereas post-harvest flooded fields were most valuable for granivorous waterbirds. Of 92 genera recorded, 28 had sympatric species. In general, geographically proximate countries were most similar in the composition of bird species using their paddies. In all countries, rice fields are considered important feeding areas and heavily used as migratory stop-over and wintering sites.
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Vol. 33 • No. sp1