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Ecology of northern pintails and other waterfowl during spring in Southern Oregon - Northeastern California (SONEC).

 
Northern pintails and other waterfowl on a flooded pasture near Malheur NWR in March 2008 --Photographer: Dan Skalos

Southern Oregon-Northeastern California (SONEC) provides critical spring staging habitat for northern pintails (Anas acuta) and other waterfowl in the Pacific Flyway.  This multi-phased project used a variety of methods to:

·         Measure timing, distribution, and magnitude of use by pintails and other waterfowl

·         Identify important spring habitats and quantify day and night use by pintails

·         Map dynamics and distribution of waterbird spring habitat in SONEC

·         Determine waterfowl food habits in spring-flooded pasture and hayfields

·         Quantify density of waterbird foods in spring-flooded pasture and hayfields

·         Determine body condition of waterfowl migrating through SONEC in spring


Project Details

The Southern Oregon-Northeastern California (SONEC) region of the Great Basin provides critical spring staging habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds, and other migratory waterbirds.  The spring period is important for waterbirds because females leaving the spring staging areas in the best condition will likely arrive on nesting areas in the best condition and contribute disproportionately to recruitment compared to females of lower body mass and condition.  This is especially true for early-nesting species such the northern pintail (Anas acuta), a species of special concern because of its continued low populations despite improved habitat conditions on northern breeding areas.  Because of its importance to waterbirds, the SONEC region is the focus of intensive conservation efforts, including the Intermountain West Joint Venture, a broadly supported, cooperative effort that includes a focus on sustaining and enhancing waterbird habitats throughout the intermountain region.  However, data are lacking on waterbird spring ecology and availability and productivity of waterbird spring habitats in SONEC.  This information is critically needed to guide conservation efforts in the SONEC region.

During 2002-2009, this multi-phased project used: 1) surveys to measure timing, distribution, and magnitude of use by pintails and other waterfowl; 2) radio telemetry to identify important spring habitats and quantify day and night use by pintails; 3) landsat imagery interpretation to map dynamics and distribution of waterbird spring habitat; 4) targeted collections and esophageal analysis to determine waterfowl food habits in spring-flooded pasture and hayfields; 5) field sampling to quantify density of waterbird foods in spring-flooded pasture and hayfields; and 6) targeted collections and lab analysis to determine body condition of waterfowl migrating through SONEC in spring.

 



USGS Contact For This Project
Joseph Fleskes
joe_fleskes@usgs.gov
(530) 669-5074
Dixon Field Station
800 Business Park Drive, Suite D
Dixon, CA 95620
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