Migration chronology was quantified for 15 waterfowl species on 58 playa wetlands in the Southern High Plains of Texas from February 2004 through April 2006. Abundance of each species was estimated on playas once every two weeks during the nonbreeding season (16 August to 30 April); presence of ice was also recorded. Dabbling ducks were most common (N = 250,668) and most tended to exhibit either a bimodal migration pattern (lower abundance in winter than during fall and spring passage) or a unimodal pattern (one defined peak). Abundance of the most common dabbling ducks was skewed toward late winter and spring. Most species of diving ducks (N = 15,128) tended to exhibit irregular migration patterns. Canada Geese (both Branta canadensis and B. hutchinsii, N = 15,347) had an abundance pattern that gradually increased, peaking in midwinter, and then decreased, which is typical for a terminal wintering area. Ice was most common on playas during the first half of December, which coincided with the lowest winter abundance in dabbling ducks. Data from this study will support management efforts focused on playa wetlands, including the development of population goals and habitat objectives that span the entire non-breeding season.
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Vol. 31 • No. 3