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

    Shore/Bank - Implementation Strategies

    Bird Monitoring

    Goal: To monitor or track all breeding birds in the shore/bank habitat and document distribution, population trends, and abundance in a statistically acceptable manner.

    Objective: All species with AI > 2 will be monitored with count-based methods.

    Strategy: Monitoring will be accomplished through the combined efforts of agencies with primary responsibility for managing this habitat.

    Strategy: Monitoring will continue to rely on BBS data, with data from CBO's Monitoring Colorado's Birds (MCB) program incorporated as it becomes available.

    Objective: All species with AI 2 will be tracked through count-based methods or their presence/absence noted in the state.

    Strategy: CBO's MCB monitoring program will address this.

    Objective: Population demographic monitoring will be instituted for all species in shore/bank habitats with PT of 4 or 5.

    Status: In 1999 there are no species known to have PT scores of 4 or 5.

    Objective: Monitor all priority birds in shore/bank habitats in Colorado. Monitor the Least Tern, Snowy Plover, and the Piping Plover.

    Strategy: Monitor Snowy Plover breeding activity at documented sites.

    Strategy: Monitor Least Tern breeding numbers at documented sites using direct count methods.

    Strategy: Monitor Piping Plover breeding numbers at documented sites using direct count methods.

    Strategy: Establish a volunteer "nest guardian" program, to monitor and protect active nests.

    Habitat Monitoring

    Goal: To document the amount, condition, and ownership of shore/bank habitat in Colorado and the extent and quality of breeding sites for priority species.

    Objective: Develop collaborative efforts to use GIS in mapping shore/bank habitat, documenting amount, condition, and ownership.

    Status: This effort has not been initiated to date. Potential collaborators include CDOW, CNHP, CBO, USGS, and TNC.

    Objective: Monitor known breeding habitat of priority species annually for condition and need for updated conservation strategies. The quality of occupied sites should be monitored as determined in applicable management plans. However, due to the high speed of change, annual monitoring is likely to be required.

    Habitat Core Areas

    Goal: To conserve unique representatives and/or large, ecologically-functioning examples of shore/bank habitat in Colorado used during the breeding season, during migration, and/or during the winter.

    Objective: Identify at least three landscapes with suitable conditions for conservation of priority species and seek conservation status for appropriate breeding habitats.

    Strategy: Coordinate activities with the conservation activities of state agencies, NGOs, local governments, private landowners, and federal agencies currently working in the areas.

    Objective: Identify areas where Snowy Plovers and Piping Plovers are known to stage prior to migration. Seek conservation status that will preserve the landscape functions of identified areas.

    Site-based Conservation

    Goal: To conserve local breeding sites, migratory stopover sites, and wintering sites in shore/bank habitats that are important for the conservation of priority species. Due to the discrete and relatively small areas in this habitat category, site-specific strategies are likely to be highly efficient.

    Objective: Seek conservation status for those known breeding sites of priority species that are regularly occupied.

    Objective: Identify reservoirs or other potentially suitable breeding habitat and develop conservation strategies that are compatible with long term conservation needs of priority birds, e.g., the management of the John Martin Reservoir provides opportunities to create and maintain habitat below the dam in the Arkansas River.

    Objective: Develop land protection strategies to ensure that critical sites are not threatened with incompatible land use changes. The future of lakeside property is uncertain in the plains counties. However, if adjacent states are an example, our reservoirs may become highly popular recreation sites, followed soon by residential expansion. Notably, this is not simply a threat, but creates opportunities for conservation as well.

    Management Practices

    Goal: To promote management practices that benefit birds in shore/bank habitats.

    Objective: Implement site-specific management strategies for known existing breeding sites of Least Tern and Piping Plover as developed by the CDOW (Slater 1994).

    Objective: A Best Management Practices (BMP) manual will be produced and distributed. The manual will include the following recommendations:

    1. Maintain reservoir levels that support reproduction of the terns and plovers. Develop incentives for water users to free up shoreline for birds when they have adequate water to store.

    2. Maintain high habitat quality on islands that are currently occupied breeding habitat. Water levels need to be low enough to expose the island, but high enough to prevent the creation of a land bridge. Such bridges invite predators and livestock.

    3. Exclude livestock from nesting areas during the nesting period; use livestock for post-breeding vegetation reduction. Dense vegetation may preclude nesting. Vegetation removal is often the goal in these habitats. Effective grazing intensities can be attained with cattle, but can also be attained with other species, e.g., goats.

    4. Develop recreation plans at known breeding sites that support the persistence of breeding activity. Recreational disturbance can be a critical stress for priority species. This is especially the case where nesting occurs on recreational destination points: high dunes, islands, and spits. In the searing heat of summer, it only takes a few minutes of exposure to kill the eggs or chicks. Habitat management should include appropriate people management as well.

    5. Wherever possible use ecological processes to maintain vegetation within the range of suitable variation for priority species. Where flooding and/or grazing are not available it may be critical to manually manipulate vegetation.

    6. Manage predators at each site in a manner dictated by local conditions. Predators can have severe impacts on the small populations of high priority species. The maintenance of water barriers will exclude most terrestrial predators. However, in reservoirs, gulls have increased in numbers and now present predation problems for the smaller species.

    7. Create spits and islands. While management is still required, these areas are the most isolated and permit easier monitoring.

    Status: Production has not yet been initiated.

    Objective: Identify key landowners and land managers and encourage them to incorporate best management practices to conserve shore/bank birds and their habitat. The needs of priority bird species of the shore/bank habitat should be considered in public reservoir management plans. Work with private landowners and irrigation companies to gain voluntary cooperation.

    Objective: Promote the creation of habitat for plovers and terns in protected areas with adequate management (e.g., a state park or state wildlife area) (Nelson 1998b).

    Interstate/International Wintering Grounds

    Goal: To conserve the wintering ground habitat used by birds of shore/bank habitats.

    Objective: Track the amount of habitat available on the wintering grounds.

    Strategy: Utilize GIS (state GAP projects, Heritage Program, and/or CBO).

    Strategy: Coordinate with appropriate state PIFs, domestic and foreign government agencies, and NGOs to obtain data.

    Objective: Protect key tracts of wintering habitat.

    Strategy: Identify the wintering distribution and key habitat associations of priority species.

    Strategy: Coordinate with appropriate state PIFs, domestic and foreign government agencies, and NGOs to protect wintering habitat through Habitat Core Areas and Site-based Conservation goals and objectives.

    Migration Concerns

    Goal: To protect migratory stopover habitat of birds of shore/bank habitats as they migrate outside of the state.

    Objective: Identify important migratory stopover areas for priority species that breed in Colorado, and key sites for priority species that breed elsewhere.

    Objective: Track amount, condition, and ownership of key migratory stopover sites.

    Strategy: Coordinate with appropriate state PIFs, domestic and foreign government agencies, and NGOs to protect migratory habitat through Habitat Core Areas and Site-based Conservation goals and objectives.

    Outreach and Education

    Goal: To provide information on shore/bank birds (conservation, habitat needs, natural history, etc.) to children, teachers, naturalists, landowners, natural resource professionals, and other interested parties.

    Strategy: Make educational materials available at local nature centers and natural resource agency offices.

    Strategy: Hold workshops and field programs for teachers.

    Strategy: Hold workshops and field programs for natural resource professionals (CDOW, BLM, and USFS staff).

    Strategy: Present information at Teacher Association meetings, conferences, other annual meetings.

    Strategy: Submit manuscripts to popular magazines for children and adults.

    Strategy: Provide landowners with information on the needs of shore/bank species and the role of private lands in conservation.

    Strategy: Each spring, supply local media outlets with general information on the natural history and conservation needs of priority species and on current conservation efforts.

    Strategy: Provide guided viewing opportunities for persons interested in seeing priority species.

    Research Priorities

    Goal: To identify and facilitate research that will aid in understanding and managing shore/bank habitats for Colorado's birds.

    Objective: To identify the top ten research needs in shore/bank habitat in Colorado.

    Strategy: Update the list of research needs annually to reflect shifting conservation priorities and to remove research needs from the list as they are investigated.

    Strategy: Solicit input from researchers and managers on research needs and accomplishments.

    Status: The following research needs have been identified:

    1. Determine the status, variability, and locations of existing and potential breeding habitat.

    2. Determine the most effective ways to design and manage reservoirs to maximally benefit the high priority birds.

    3. Determine methods to manage instream impoundments to create riverine sandbar habitat.

    4. Determine the hydrological regime that would restore adequate sandbar habitat in the Arkansas River below John Martin Reservoir. The management of reservoirs to restore more natural flow regimes downstream is being investigated throughout the West. Most of the research impetus is to benefit endangered fishes in the respective rivers. However, a similar need is present on the South Platte and Arkansas rivers of eastern Colorado with respect to the shore/bank birds identified herein. With only small reservoirs on the South Platte, it is likely that the greatest benefits for the birds could be attained in the Arkansas drainage.

    Strategy: Facilitate investigations to answer these questions by providing information about priority needs to universities, public and private research entities, identifying funding sources, and promoting collaboration between management and research agencies.

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