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What is the Wash?

Marsh birds

As part of the Las Vegas Wash stabilization program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended annual surveys for the federally endangered Yuma clapper rail (Rallus longirostris yumanensis) be conducted during the breeding season to determine the species occurrence within the park.

Surveys were conducted by permitted consultants from 2000 to 2007. Wanting to obtain information on all secretive marsh bird species that may benefit from wetland enhancement in the study area, Wash Team biologists began a study in 2007 using the standardized North American marsh bird monitoring protocol. Yuma clapper rail was added to the survey the following year after staff received the necessary permit.

The six species targeted during the surveys include American bittern, least bittern, black rail, clapper rail, Virginia rail and sora. Detections of pied-billed grebe, common gallinule (formerly common moorhen), and American coot (referred to as non-target species) also are recorded. Surveys are typically conducted along three survey routes comprising approximately 25 points (the number of routes and points sometimes varies due to changes in suitable habitat).

Yuma clapper rail
Yuma clapper rail. Credit: Jim Rorabaugh/USFW

Biologists have not detected Yuma clapper rail or black rail during the study. The last detection of Yuma clapper rail (a single individual) occurred in June 2006 during surveys for other species. American bittern was only detected once, in 2010. Surveyors detect least bittern, Virginia rail and sora every year, as well as the three non-target species. Sora is the most abundant of the target species and American coot is the most abundant of all recorded species.

Survey reports can be found in the Wildlife section of the Resource and Management Documents.

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