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Reddish egret at J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by USFWS.

Waterbird conservation planning

The North American Waterbird Conservation Plan - also known as Waterbirds for the Americas - is an international, voluntary partnership committed to conserving waterbirds and their habitats. As with Partners in Flight, the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and similar initiatives, a number of regional, ecoregional and species-specific plans and technical documents have been developed under the North American Waterbird Conservation Plan.

Among these documents, the Southeast U.S. Waterbird Conservation Plan. Fulfills an important role. This regional plan, developed in 2006, provides planning guidance and implementation recommendations related to species vulnerability, habitats, threats, management, objectives, conservation actions, research and monitoring needs, and other considerations important in contexting waterbird conservation throughout the Southeast. Tables and appendices to the plan offer specific data and details upon which many of the plan components and recommendations are based. A four-page plan brochure offers a convenient overview.

Two particularly vulnerable and important waterbird species in the Southeast are reddish egret and black rail. A reddish egret conservation plan was developed in partnership under the auspices of the Reddish Egret Working Group. Black rail is a secretive marshbird that appears to be experiencing worrisome declines and local extirpations across the Eastern United States. A key resource documenting current information on eastern black rail is the recently published Eastern Black Rail Status Assessment.

King rail is another secretive marshbird that receives heightened conservation attention. The King Rail Conservation Action Plan and similar conservation guidance and recommendations for king rail are hosted by the Service’s Midwest Region.

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Dean Demarest,, (404) 679-7371

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