Waterfowl and American Coot Habitat Associations with Mississippi Catfish Ponds

Approximately 41,375 ha of catfish ponds in Mississippi attracted as many as 150,000 waterfowl and American coots (Fulica americana) during winters in the mid-1980s. We evaluated relationships between numbers of northern shoveler {Anas clypeata), ruddy duck (Oxyura jamaicensis), scaup (Aythya affinis, A. marila), and American coot and habitat features of catfish farms in west-central Mississippi during winters 1983-1986. All species tended to use large clusters of ponds with other ponds nearby. High waterfowl use also occurred on pond clusters near the Mississippi River. Although catfish ponds do not require special management to attract the above species, our results suggested that pond-complex size and relative location within the study area were primary proximate factors influencing waterfowl and coot use. Present strategies to deter piscivorous birds from exploiting catfish may disperse wintering waterfowl and American coots from catfish farms.

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