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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Locating, Constructing, and Managing Islands for Nesting Waterfowl

Colonial Birds and Shorebirds

Islands are occasionally used by colonial-nesting birds such as American white pelicans, double-crested cormorants, and common terns, and by shorebirds such as American avocets and piping plovers. These species occur so infrequently that it is not possible to predict which new islands they will use.

Generally, American avocets and piping plovers prefer to nest on wide (≥75 feet) beaches located in alkaline wetlands. Beaches sought by these species are nearly free of vegetation but could include gravel or small stones. All of these are desirable species that do not consume waterfowl or other birds and they should be encouraged. Conversely, colonies of nesting California and ring-billed gulls on islands should be discouraged because these 2 large gulls prey on waterfowl, mainly ducklings, and other birds.

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