We used aerial surveys and reports from experienced birders and biologists to identify potentially important sites for wintering shorebirds in coastal Florida. We visited 273 sites in November and December 1993 to assess use by shorebirds and, based on abundance and number of species, we selected the 60 most important sites. We visited these 60 sites at least 3 times between 16 Dec. 1993 and 1 Mar. 1994 and recorded 25 species among an estimated 30,501 shorebirds wintering at the sites. Dunlin (Calidris alpina), Western Sandpipers (C. mauri), Sanderlings (C. alba), and dowitchers (Limnodromus spp.) were the most commonly observed species. Coastal Florida was winter host to >3% of the estimated North American population of Wilson's Plovers (Charadrius wilsonia), Piping Plovers (C. melodus), and American Oystercatchers (Haematopus palliatus). Fifty-three of the 60 most important sites were on Florida's west coast. St. George Sound, Tampa Bay, and Florida Bay contained sites with the highest numbers and most species of shorebirds.
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Vol. 71 • No. 4