Wetlands as bird habitat




One of the best known functions of wetlands is to provide a habitat for birds (fig. 28). Humans have known of the link between birds and wetlands for thousands of years. Prehistoric people drew pictures of birds and wetlands on cave walls, scratched them onto rocks, and used them in the design of artifacts (fig. 29); and Native American lore provides accounts of bird hunts in wetlands. Wetlands are important bird habitats, and birds use them for breeding, nesting, and rearing young (fig. 30). Birds also use wetlands as a source of drinking water and for feeding, resting, shelter, and social interactions. Some waterfowl, such as grebes, have adapted to wetlands to such an extent that their survival as individual species depends on the availability of certain types of wetlands within their geographic range. Other species, such as the northern pintail or the American widgeon, use wetlands only during some parts of their lives.  Wetlands occupy only a small part of the landscape that is now the conterminous United States 11 percent in 1780 and just 5 percent in 1980 (Dahl and others, 1991). Nonetheless, they are important to birds. During the past 20 years, policies and programs that encourage altering, draining, or filling of wetlands have decreased, and policies that encourage wetland conservation and restoration have increased. (See article "Wetland Protection Legislation" in this volume.) Among the wetland attributes society seeks to protect and conserve are those that benefit wildlife, particularly migratory birds. This article discusses the benefits that wetlands provide for birds and the effects of wetland losses on birds

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Title Wetlands as bird habitat
DOI 10.3133/wsp2425
Year Published 1996
Language English
Publisher U.S. Government Printing Office
Contributing office(s) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center, National Wetlands Research Center
Description 8 p.
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Larger Work Title National water summary on wetland resources
First page 49
Last page 56
Country United States