Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wading Birds of Bahía Kino, Sonora, México

Great Blue Heron with cardon cactus nest (Photo Emily Clark)
The Kino Bay Center for Cultural and Ecological Studies is a Prescott College field station in Bahía Kino, a small town in the Mexican state of Sonora, on the Gulf of California.  Each year the Kino Bay Center hosts over 1,000 researchers, students, resident fellows and community visitors from dozens of institutions and community groups from Mexico, the United States and other parts of the world. The Kino Bay Center has been conducting research on the wading bird colonies in the region for many years, along with spearheading the designation of Estero Santa Cruz as a wetland of international importance under the United Nations Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. They have published the results of their surveys from 2009-2013 in Waterbirds 38(4):355-363. 2015 

Diversity, Abundance and Nesting Phenology of the Wading Birds of Bahía Kino, Sonora, México
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Emily W. Clark, Abram B. Fleishman and Mark F. Riegner
Abstract.--The occurrence and nesting phenology of Ardeidae species and other wading birds were documented from 2009–2013 in the Bahía Kino bioregion of western Sonora, México. Two active colonies were surveyed: in a mangrove (Avicennia germinans; Rhizophora mangle) estuary and on a nearshore desert island. Thirteen species of nesting wading birds were recorded, 11 of which are year-round residents and two occurring only during the breeding season; two additional species were documented only in migration. The most abundant species was the Snowy Egret (Egretta thula), which had a peak of 234 nests in 2012. Of particular conservation interest is the Reddish Egret (E. rufescens), which had a peak of 149 nests in 2012. Potential prey of wading birds in the estuary was also sampled, with special focus on brachyuran crabs, which constitute the main prey items of the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea). The rapid development of the region, and especially the establishment of largescale mariculture operations along Estero Santa Cruz, has the potential to impact local wading bird populations, and thus an understanding of wading bird diversity, abundance and habitat use may prove critical to inform future management and conservation initiatives.
Heron colony on Alcatraz Island, Bahio Kino, Mexico (Photo Emily Clark)
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron with Uca princeps (Photo Abram Fleishman)

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