We used satellite transmitters (platform transmitting terminals or PTTs) during 2002 and 2003 to document spring migration timing, routes, stopover sites, and nesting sites of adult female Northern Pintails (Anas acuta) from major wintering areas of the Gulf Coast (N = 20) and Playa Lakes Regions (PLR, N = 20) in Texas, and the Middle Rio Grande Valley, New Mexico (MRGV, N = 15). Some Pintails tagged in the MRGV continued movements into Mexico. Poor winter survival or PTT failure reduced sample size to 15 for PLR Pintails, 5 for Gulf Coast Pintails, and 11 for MRGV Pintails. Apparent winter survival was 66% lower for Texas Gulf Coast PTT-tagged Pintails than for those from the PLR and MRGV. Pintails from each area used different routes to their respective breeding grounds. PTT-tagged Pintails from the MRGV followed the Rio Grande Valley north to southern Colorado, before traveling on to the Dakotas and Canada or traveled northeast and joined the migration of PLR Pintails in Texas or Kansas. The latter made initial stops in Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, or the Dakotas. Gulf Coast Pintails traveled through north-central Oklahoma or central Kansas. Pintails that had stopped first in Kansas or Nebraska tended to settle to nest in the United States. Wetland availability in the Prairie Pothole Region of the Northern Great Plains influenced nesting destinations of PTT-tagged Pintails, but individuals settled across a wide swath of northern North America. We did not detect any consistently-used spring staging areas. Therefore, negative impacts to any of the marked populations, or their wetland habitats, may have continental implications.
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Spring migration of Northern Pintails from Texas and New Mexico, USA