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What is the Wash?

Aquatic Bird Counts

Thanks to stabilization and revegetation activities, the amount and diversity of aquatic habitat at the Las Vegas Wash is improving. On Oct. 28, 2009, the Las Vegas Wash Project Coordination Team used funding provided by the Bureau of Reclamation to begin aquatic bird counts at the Wash and document them using those habitats. The surveys fulfill a recommended action in the Las Vegas Wash Wildlife Management Plan and will expand our knowledge of the richness, abundance and distribution of waterfowl and shorebirds using the Wash and adjacent wetland habitats.

Sites surveyed include most weirs along the main Wash and bypass channel, and off-channel wetlands in the Clark County Wetlands Park. Weir sites typically include the impoundment, face and apron of the weir. However, for some sites only the impoundment is sufficiently accessible to be surveyed. Off-channel wetland sites are located at the in-lieu fee mitigation ponds.

Las Vegas Wash aquatic bird count sites
Aquatic bird count sites. (click image for larger view)

Sites are surveyed monthly with the exception of spring and fall shorebird migration (early April through mid-May and mid-August through September), when a minimum of three evenly-spaced surveys will be conducted. Field staff consisting of one to two people survey all off-channel wetland sites in one day and all Wash weir sites the following day (unless postponed due to poor weather). Surveys begin at sunrise and last approximately five hours. Staff records aquatic bird detections - listing the species, location within the site (impoundment, weir or apron) and habitat (open water, pond edge, marsh interior, etc.). Staff also notes if the bird was heard and not seen.

Data is analyzed and reported, including a list of species detected, estimates of abundance, and average richness and abundance per survey. This will provide valuable information on this diverse group of birds and their use of Wash habitats.

Las Vegas Wash Project Coordination Team • 100 City Parkway, Suite 700 • Las Vegas, NV 89106 • (702) 822-3300