Bird Use of Agricultural Fields Enrolled in the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative

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In summer 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) launched the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative (MBHI) in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The goal of the program was to enhance migratory bird habitat on private lands and thus offset habitat loss caused by the oil spill.  Rice fields and other lands that could be flooded were managed to create mudflats during the migration period. In collaboration with NRCS and the University of Delaware, researchers at the USGS National Wetlands Research Center used weather surveillance radar, a mobile marine radar system, a thermal infrared camera, and ground-based visual counts to assess migratory bird use of fields enrolled in the MBHI. The weather radar analyses included MBHI fields within 80 km of the weather radars located at Houston, Texas; Lake Charles, Louisiana; Memphis, Tennessee; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Paducah, Kentucky. In the region around Lake Charles, additional mobile radar, thermal imaging, and visual surveys were conducted on 12 sites (69 fields). Preliminary radar data analysis indicates that the bird density of MBHI fields increased in response to the management activities implemented in September and October.

Author Name
Wylie Barrow
Author Email