To determine the distribution and abundance of wintering plovers in the Laguna Madre of Texas and Tamaulipas, surveys were conducted in December 1997 and February 1998, along a 160 km stretch of barrier islands in Mexico and- 40 km of shoreline on South Padre Island, Texas. Altogether, 5,673 individuals, representing six plover species, were recorded during the surveys. Black-bellied Plovers Pluvialis squatarola were the most numerous (3 ,013
individuals) representing 53% of the total number of plovers observed. Numbers of Piping Charadriusm elodu, Snowy C . alexandrinus, Semipalmated C. semipalmatus and Wilson's Plovers C. wilsonia were 739, 1,345, 561, and 13 birds, respectively. Most individuals (97%) of all species except Wilson's Plovers were observed on bayside flats of the barrier islands. Similar numbers of Piping Plovers were recorded at South Padre Island, Texas, and in the Laguna
Madre de Tamaulipas. Over 85% of the individuals of each of the other species were found in the more extensively surveyed Mexico portion of Laguna Madre. In Tamaulipas, most plover species were observed more often on algal flats than any other substrate. These results provide evidence of the value of these systems as wintering areas for plover species and indicate the need for more extensive survey efforts to determine temporal and spatial variation in the distribution of these species within the Laguna ecosystem.
Additional publication details
Winter distributions of North American Plovers in the Laguna Madre regions of Tamaulipas, Mexico and Texas, USA