The Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus) is a migratory shorebird of temperate and tropical America. Declining wetland quality and associated declines in hydrological integrity may contribute to widespread habitat loss for stilts nesting on the upper Texas Gulf of Mexico coast of the USA, as both fresh and brackish marshes are converting to open water and saline marsh. Nests (n = 356) were monitored in three wetland types on the upper Texas coast from 21 April-30 June 2011-2012. Of these 356 nests, 151 were located in managed freshwater wetlands (16 in 2011 and 135 in 2012), 128 were located in managed intermediate wetlands (75 in 2011 and 53 in 2012), and 77 were located in rice fields (all in 2012). Collectively, nest success was 0.2% (0 in rice fields and as high as 4.3% in freshwater wetlands in 2012), among the lowest ever reported for the species. The most frequent cause of nest failure was predation by mammalian and avian predators (∼50%). Daily nest survival rate was positively related to mudflat nesting substrates and negatively related to colony size, rice field, and brackish coastal wetland habitats. Future efforts to minimize edge effects in managed wetlands may prove valuable to improve nest success of stilts and other species that nest in similar wetland types.
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Vol. 42 • No. 3