Waterfowl and Wetland Bird Program at CKWRI
The Waterfowl and Wetland Bird program at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute is committed to conducting world-class research relevant to waterfowl, wetlands, and wetland bird ecology and management to increase the effectiveness of conservation and management efforts. Our program has a long track record of investigating important ecological issues relevant to waterfowl and wetland birds and promoting science-based habitat management and conservation along the Texas Gulf Coast, in particular, the Laguna Madre which is positioned along the lower Texas Coast and is one of the focuses of our program.
Working in partnerships is a guiding philosophy of our program because of the larger impact we have on wildlife and their habitats when we combine expertise and resources from multiple partners. Because the species we work with are migratory and cross state and country borders, we are strongly connected to our partners (agencies, NGOs, private landowners) throughout the region and state, as well as the continent. Through these partnerships, our program conducts research to inform regional and national conservation plans.
Importance of Region to Birds
The lower Texas Coast is often touted as The Last Great Habitat because of the relatively contiguous habitat due to large landholdings and little development. However, recent development interests, particularly wind energy, have provided new challenges to natural resource managers in their efforts to ensure availability of suitable habitat for migratory and resident wildlife.
- The Laguna Madre is one of only 5 lagoon systems in the world and provides nesting, migratory, or wintering habitat for tens of millions of birds annually.
- Flocks of several million shorebirds rely on the Laguna Madre during spring and autumn to sequester energy and nutrients for their long journeys to breeding and wintering areas.
- 26 species of waterbirds regularly nest in colonies in the Laguna Madre.
- The Laguna Madre winters up to 80% of the continental redhead population.
- Recent monitoring with state-of-the-art avian radar units show that more birds migrate through the Texas Coast region than any other region in North America.
- The majority of reddish egrets in North America breed in the Laguna Madre of Texas.