Land Bird Conservation Plan Colorado  

Overview of Colorado
Physiographic Region 36

  • Grasslands
  • Lowland Riparian
  • Shore/Bank
  • Wetlands

  • Physiographic Region 62
    Physiographic Region 87
    Implementation Strategies
    Literature Cited

    Physiographic Region 36: Central Shortgrass Prairie

    Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda)

    Associated Species: Other species that may use habitat in a similar way and/or respond similarly to threats, management, and conservation activities include Grasshopper Sparrow and Western Meadowlark.

    Distribution: Upland Sandpipers breed from north-central Alaska east to southern New Brunswick, south to central Virginia, and west to northeastern Colorado. Within Colorado, they nest only in the northeastern corner of the state.

    Habitat Requirements: Upland Sandpipers prefer meadows, croplands, and mixed-grass and tallgrass prairies. In Colorado, they find suitable nesting habitat in grassy riparian zones. Upland Sandpipers avoid nesting in vegetation taller than about 62 cm (24 in) and often nest in much shorter vegetation--less than 6 cm (2.4 in). They also avoid nesting in croplands. They use open areas, such as grazed pasture, cut hayfields, and croplands with vegetation shorter than about 27 cm (10.5 in), for foraging (Bolster 1990).

    Ecology: Upland Sandpipers arrive in Colorado in April and nest in May. The young fledge in June. They depart for their wintering grounds in the grasslands of southern South America by late July. The diet consists primarily of insects, especially grasshoppers, locusts, and weevils; they also eat some seeds and grains.

    Management Issues and Conservation Recommendations: The primary causes of population declines are probably the loss of breeding and wintering habitat by conversion to agriculture and the removal of taller vegetation by intensive grazing. Colorado populations are at the periphery of the species' range, and suitable habitat is scarce even without loss due to human activities. Protect mixed-grass and tallgrass habitats in riparian zones.

    Many broods are lost when hay is cut in the second half of July, before young birds have fledged. To protect these birds, cut hay 7-10 days later, cut hay several inches taller, or leave islands of uncut hay in each field as refugia (Bolster 1990).

    Status and Reasons for Concern: This species is representative of an uncommon habitat type (midgrass and tallgrass riparian zones) within this physiographic area. This is a USFS Sensitive Species in Region 2. Within the Central Shortgrass Prairie, BBS data do not show a statistically significant annual rate of change between 1966 and 1996 (P = 0.54; n = 29 routes). Upland Sandpipers were present on an average of 9.76% (SE = 1.66) of the BBS routes run in Physiographic Area 36 in Colorado during 1988-1997, at an average abundance of 0.28 (SE = 0.09) individuals per route. The mean number of routes run each year was 29.2 (SE = 2.28). This species is monitored by MCB with tracking transects.

    Biological Objective: Maintain or increase the species' distribution and abundance, based upon results from the BBS and MCB monitoring programs.

    Selected References: Andrews and Righter 1992, Kingery 1998, Kirsch and Higgins 1976.

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