Waterbird Monitoring Program
The Waterbird Monitoring Program (WMP) began in 1997 with two senior project students who created a methodology and conducted an initial census of the Double-crested Cormorant colony on Isla Alcatraz. Since that time projects have evolved and expanded to study regional island and estuarine ecosystems, and the abundant migratory and resident waterbirds that use them. In the central gulf coast of Sonora and its islands, roughly half of the common avian species are classified as waterbirds – birds that obtain the majority of their diet from salt or fresh water. Due to their various habitat and food quality needs, waterbirds as a group act as indicators for ecological health. In addition, due to their sheer abundance, diversity, and often density, they can act as flagship species for conservation of specific sites such as the islands and estuaries on which they rely.
Recent studies have shown that many species of waterbirds are declining on a global scale as a result of habitat loss and climate change, among other reasons. Most waterbirds are highly social and colonial nesters, forming colonies of a few individuals to several million.
The above mentioned reasons combined with the small amount of ornithological attention that has focused on the central Sonora coast, provides the impetus for the waterbird studies at the Kino Bay Center.
Currently, the WMP has several projects focusing on waterbird conservation. In the coastal wetlands, locally known as esteros, projects addressing diversity and abundance of migratory and resident birds throughout the fall, winter, and spring, have shown that Estero Santa Cruz and Estero Cardonal meet the qualifying criteria for being recognized as Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention, Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network Sites of Regional Importance, and Important Bird Areas (IBA) as recognized by BirdLife International. Work has begun to address the feasibility and practicality of each designation; in December 2010, Estero Santa Cruz and Estero Cardonal were both nominated as IBAs. In 2013, Estero Santa Cruz was declared a Wetland of International Importance through the United Nations Ramsar Convention.
Work on Isla Alcatraz includes multispecies (14) nest monitoring throughout the fall, winter, and spring of each year. This research addresses diversity and abundance as well as spatial distribution. We have also investigated the presence of nesting Craveri’s Murrelets on the Sonora Midriff Islands and their nest site preferences.
Waterbird Monitoring Projects
American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliates) nest abundance and success on Isla Alcatraz
Little is published on American Oystercatchers in the Gulf of California. ... Learn more
Craveri’s Murrelet vocalization recording
In 2008, a Prescott College senior project student received funding from the Wild-at-Heart Foundation and ... Learn more
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus albociliatus) nest distribution, abundance, and chronology on Isla Alcatraz
Isla Alcatraz supports the largest Double-crested Cormorant nesting colony in the Gulf of California. ... Learn more
Impact of Semana Santa visitors on the nest success of the Yellow-footed Gull (Larus livens)on Isla Alcatraz
The Isla Alcatraz Yellow-footed Gull colony is significant, comprised of >350 nests and an estimated 2% of ... Learn more
Isla Alcatraz Program
Isla Alcatraz is a small island, located 1.4 km offshore of the town of Bahía Kino, Sonora, Mexico. In 1999, ... Learn more
Migratory and resident waterbird census in Estero Santa Cruz, Estero Cardonal, and Estero Tastiota
Esteros Santa Cruz, Cardonal, and Tastiota are small to medium-sized negative estuaries (limited or no ... Learn more
Mixed-species wading birds and Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) nesting colony distribution, chronology, and composition on Isla Alcatraz
A mixed species wading bird colony has been present on Isla Alcatraz since 1998. In 2004, Brown Pelicans began ... Learn more
Nesting Red-billed Tropicbird (Phaethon aethereus) surveys on Isla San Pedro Mártir
Survey of Red-billed Tropicbirds on Isla San Pedro Mártir. The study was conducted during the 2008 breeding ... Learn more
Nesting waterbird surveys in Estero Santa Cruz, Estero Cardonal, Estero Tastiota, and Estero Santa Rosa
Wetlands provide critical habitat for waterbirds, including the only nesting habitat for certain species ... Learn more
Search for Craveri’s Murrelet (Synthliboramphus craveri) nests on the Eastern Midriff Islands
The Craveri’s Murrelet is a small seabird that is considered quasi-endemic to the Gulf of California. They ... Learn more
Shorebird use of Estero Santa Cruz: abundance, diversity and conservation implications
Estero Santa Cruz is situated along the Pacific Flyway, and currently acts as an important migratory ... Learn more
Waterbird Partners & Resources
Área De Protección de Flora y Fauna Islas Del Golfo De California (CONANP)
Áreas de Importancia para la Conservación de las Aves (AICAS) (Conabio)
Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada (CICESE)
Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo (CIAD)
Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (Conabio)
Conservación de la Territorio Insular de México A.C
Departamento de Investigaciones Científicas y Tecnológicas de la Universidad de Sonora (DICTUS)
El Centro de Estudios de Desiertos y Océanos (CEDO)
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Golondrinas de las Americas (Cornell)
Important Bird Areas (IBAs) (BirdLife International)
Important Bird Areas Program (Audubon)
Pro Esteros A. C. (CICESE)
Pronatura Noroeste, A.C.
Reserva Biosfora Isla San Pedro Mártir (CONANP)
Sonoran Joint Venture
The Alamos Wildlands Alliance
The Ramsar Convention on wetlands
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN)
Kino Bay Center Photo Gallery
The Kino Bay photo database is a searchable and diverse collection of ... Learn more