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Much as Bill Eddleman would like to get back to the birds per se, his comments are a learning experience for me and just make me want to learn more about this bird habitat subject. But first I want to make sure I have learned correctly. Are the following paraphrases of Bill's comments correct?

American Lotus supplants more valuable bird food sources in two ways, viz.:

(1) If the water is deep enough so that there would be open water if the lotus were removed, it crowds and/or shades out bottom-growing plants  on which ducks and coots might otherwise feed.

(2) If it covers an area that dries out, or nearly dries out, in summer, as has happened this summer at Squaw Creek and Swan Lake, it prevents the growth of moist soil plans like smartweed, sprangletop and millet. (It probably also prevents the temporary development of good shorebird habitat as open water dries out to become the moist soil in which smartweed, etc. grow).

Assuming that I am with Bill so far, I'm wondering how much justification there is for curbing American Lotus' takeover of very large areas of what used to be open water at Squaw Creek and Swan Lake. It seems to me this is a relatively recent phenomenon at both refuges. (The 1993 flood completely wiped out the American Lotus at Squaw Creek. Before that, although some Ameican Lotus was present at the south end of the main pool, there were large areas of open water in summer. I'm less familiar with Swan Lake, but I seem to remember quite a bit of open water in the area  there now clogged with American Lotus). The initial argument would be that if the American Lotus were controlled, both refuges could have a lot more duck habitat.

I think the Squaw Creek manager's response would probably be that he has been developing a lot of duck habitat in other parts of the refuge (e.g. Mallard Marsh) and that the portions of the main pool where the lotus is serve mainly as a resting place for very large flocks of geese and ducks in late fall and early spring, when the lotus has died down. (The Snow Geese, of course, feed off the refuge, as do some of the dabbling ducks.)  Likewise, he has been developing other areas of the refuge for shorebirds (for which he deserves much praise from us!).

I wonder if the Swan Lake manager's response would not be similar.


Bob Fisher
Independence, Missouri
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  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Bill Eddleman
  To: [log in to unmask]
  Sent: Saturday, October 12, 2002 7:25 AM
  Subject: Re: American Lotus


  I think your "scarce dollars" argument is probably on the mark. Lotus does provide some Wood Duck habitat in late summer and early fall, and unless the lotus covers entire regions of a refuge, control is probably too expensive for the return.

  However, at Mingo some years ago, lotus came to dominate the shallow Monopoly Lake. Formerly, the part of the lake that became covered by lotus produced lots of seed-bearing plants that provided food for many different birds in winter. The refuge had to stabilize water levels on Monopoly Lake for several years to set back the lotus, and later restore the productive annual and short-lived perennial plants that were more valuable bird habitat. (Among these are smartweed, sprangletop, and wild millet.)

  True, open water is not too valuable for many birds, but there are a number of species that feed on submerged aquatic plants in relatively open water at moderate water depths (gadwall, wigeon, coots are all examples). Lotus out-competes even these plants. In general, there are other, more valuable plants (from a wildlife standpoint) that can grow at the water depths where lotus grows best. It is partly the preference of the lake owner. Some folks just like the appearance of lotus.

  Back to birds!

  ----Bill Eddleman, Cape Girardeau

  At 05:24 PM 10/11/2002 -0500, you wrote:


    Query No. 1: If American lotus is a pest and can be controlled, why do Squaw Creek and Swan Lake have so much of it?

    (Guess Number 1: They see their primary mission as refuges for waterfowl after frost has suppressed American Lotus for the winter and do not want to expend scarce dollars controlling American Lotus in the summer.

    Guess Number 2: American Lotus, though a "pest" for fishing ponds, is not considered a "pest" at Swan Lake and Squaw Creeek because it not detrimental to species, like Wood Ducks, that they are happy to propagate in summer).

    Query No. 2: Should birders be for it or against it at places like Squaw Creek and Swan Lake?

    (Bill Eddleman describes it as " pretty much lousy habitat for birds, including the marsh species." But what would take its place if it were controlled? I doubt that open water would be better for breeding birds. Having seen what the cattails did to Cheyenne Bottoms, I'm not for them either!).

    Bob Fisher
    Independence, Missouri
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