A little more about shore bird habitat. Then some specifics about particular species. I invite others to jump in with more specifics, or even to take issue with some of mine.
The whole issue what is good shorebird habitat is complicated by the fact that, while the best shore birding often occurs where a pond, lake, fluddle or waterfowl management area is draining or drying out, some of these areas already have some vegetation in them, and new grass will spring up soon in the others. On the coasts, mudflats are covered twice daily by the tides, and most of them never grass over. In the interior, it happens most of the time. For that reason, interior shore birding is very dynamic. Except for the rare refuge or conservation area that deliberately manages for shore birds, the birds must be opportunistic -- and so also must be the birders.
The problem of vegetation is much worse during the summer/fall migration.  There are fewer mudflats then, and the new grass comes on very quickly.
Most shore birds are found in association with water, but not all of them. However, even those whose preferred habitat has little or nothing to do with ponds or mudflats will show up occasionally near water -- frequently in the dryer edge areas. For example, American-Golden Plovers are going through right now. Their greatest numbers are likely to be on the bare dirt of disked agricultural fields. However, a few are apt to show up near ponds throughout the spring migration. An especially good place to look for American Golden-plovers in spring is in the blackened areas of very recently-burned grassland.  Buff-breasted Sandpipers evidently go through quite rapidly in spring, because they are rarely reported then. The best time and place to find them is on a sod farm in August.  Nevertheless, a few show up in either season around a pond or lake that is drying out, especially in areas where new grass is just beginning to sprout. I have seen Buffies in dry disked fields. Sod farms are also good places to find returning Golden Plovers. (Most Golden Plovers migrate up the center of the U.S. in spring, take an Atlantic route back to the Argentinean pampas in fall.)
It's 4:30 a.m., and I'm getting sleepy. I'll conclude with a very short explanatory poem and continue later.
It's just a ruse
to get my muse
to tell her news
before I snooze.
Bon nuit.
Bob Fisher
Independence, MO
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The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
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