We examined space use by Black-necked Stilts Himantopus mexicanus in the San Francisco Bay estuary, USA, to better understand how shorebirds use their Pacific Flyway landscape. These efforts are particularly important in the San Francisco Bay estuary where ongoing large-scale restoration projects are rapidly changing the mosaic of wetland habitats. We radio-marked 59 stilts and tracked individuals for up to four months and found no difference in home range size by sex or between North and South Bay subregions. We did find differences in home range size by capture site. Mean home range was 283.5 ha and movement from capture sites was 4.5 km. We used cluster analysis to calculate number of focal areas for individuals and found that overall space requirements were larger for stilts with multiple centres of activity. Birds with multiple use areas were often those that bred in vegetated marshes and moved into salt ponds when their nests failed or after chicks hatched. In the South Bay subregion, salt pond use was greater than availability in core use home range areas despite comprising the largest proportion of available habitat. Tidal salt marsh restoration from former salt ponds may reduce available habitat of invertebrate prey species that depend on hypersaline habitats; retention of some shallow, mid-salinity managed ponds may mitigate this loss. A better understanding of the space use and habitat requirements of stilts will provide for more specific habitat and management recommendations in areas targeted for wetland restoration, contributing to better conservation of shorebird populations along the Pacific Flyway.
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Space use by Black-necked Stilts Himantopus mexicanus in the San Francisco Bay estuary