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The breeding population of norther pintails (Anas acuta) in 1996 was 39% below the long-term average. Because winter habitat quality may influence subsequent breeding population size in pintails, identification of habitats used by wintering pintails and factors influencing use of habitats may be important for managing for population increase. We examined variation in diel use of habitats by radiotagged female pintails (n = 272) in southwestern Louisiana in relation to age (imm and ad), winter (1991-92 and 1992-93), and time period within winters (pre-hunting season, first hunting season, time between split hunting seasons, second hunting season, and post-hunting season). Diurnal use of refuges was significantly greater during hunting seasons than during immediately preceding or succeeding nonhunting seasons. Consequently, we reject Tamissier's (1976) hypothesis that high diurnal use of refuges by pintails in southwestern Louisiana occurs later in winters. Time-period differences in diurnal and nocturnal use of habitats (large permanent pools, marsh, rice, fallow [idle], and other agriculture [primarily soybeans]) were not consistent between winters. Diel use of refuges or habitats did not differ in relation to female age. Females used fallow and ice agriculture extensively, particularly at night, and these habitats collectively accounted for 68-93% of nocturnal use. Differential use of habitats between winters was related to annual differences in relative abundance of rice and fallow agriculture. Proximity of refuges to agricultural areas should be an important management consideration for wintering pintails and other waterfowl.
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Use of habitats by female norther pintails wintering in southwestern Louisiana