Alas, June. Unlike the coasts, where the tides create it twice a day, shorebird habitat varies tremendously from year to year, often from week to week and sometimes from day to day in the interior. Cooley Lake yielded shorebirds in 2002 because we were then in drought. Conditions are now more normal, perhaps wetter than normal. We are more apt to find shorebirds in shrinking puddles than along the shore of the lakes that dried up during the drought.

Another factor affecting shore bird habitat in July is plant growth. Once mud appears, seeds start sprouting. Soon, what was shorebird habitat is covered with grass, smartweed, etc.

One good thing can be said about mid-summer shore birding in the interior. If there is good habitat, it will usually have shore birds. 

The best habitat is sometimes created when refuge managers draw down a lake or impoundment, temporarily creating mud flat (and what may be even more important, shallow sheet water).  Fishing lakes are sometimes drawn down to deal with runoff of agricultural pesticides. In waterfowl refuges that use the "moist soil" method of creating habitat for ducks, the draw down creates the ground for a bumper crop of smartweed, which can be flooded when the ducks come in. 

You might ask, why not time draw downs to cooincide with shorebird migration? The timing of draw downs is a major skill in the business of waterfowl refuge management. If it is done at the wrong time, the crop may be cockle burrs instead of smartweed. It would be nice to know if this year's draw downs have been completed or are still to be done. 

I saw a post the other day about Silver Lake at SLNWR that may have included something about a draw down. 

Posts about draw downs and other sources of shorebird habitat would be most helpful.

Bob Fisher
Independence, MO
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