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Western North American shorebirds

January 1, 1995

Shorebirds are a diverse group that includes oystercatchers, stilts, avocets, plovers, and sandpipers. They are familiar birds of seashores, mudflats, tundra, and other wetlands, but they also occur in deserts, high mountains, forests, and agricultural fields. Widespread loss and alteration of these habitats, especially wetlands and grasslands during the past 150 years, coupled with unregulated shooting at the turn of the century, resulted in population declines and range contractions of several species throughout North America. In the western portion of the continent, efforts to monitor the status and trends of shorebirds have been in effect for only the past 15-25 years and for only a few species. Methods exist to monitor population trends for most shorebirds, but only broadscale, international efforts, relying largely on volunteer help, will accomplish this.

In this article we address shorebirds primarily in western North America, the region west of the Continental Divide from northern Alaska to southern Mexico. The 12 states, a Canadian province and territory, and the western portion of Mexico within this region represent about 25% of the North American landmass (Fig. 1). Western North America includes portions of three broad ecological domains: the Polar Domain, encompassing the tundra and boreal forests that cover most of Greenland, Canada, and Alaska; the Humid Temperate Domain, including the humid midlatitude forests and shrublands within the United States, southern portions of the Canadian prairie provinces, and along the west coast of North America; and the Dry Domain, encompassing the short-grass prairies, sagebrush provinces, and deserts (Fig. 1; Bailey 1978, 1989).

Citation Information

Publication Year 1995
Title Western North American shorebirds
Authors Robert E. Gill, Colleen M. Handel, Gary W. Page
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Series Title
Series Number
Index ID 70186999
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Science Center

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