Several studies have looked at the importance of man-made water resources to wildlife in desert regions. To our knowledge, however, none have attempted to directly quantify their importance to both resident and Neotropical migratory birds. During the spring and summer from 2007-2009, we enriched man-made water developments in the Sonoran Desert on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona. We enriched water developments using deuteriated water and sampled the body water pools of resident and migrant birds to quantify development use. We used a simple two end-point mixing model to estimate the proportion of an individual birds body water pool that was derived from the development water. We mist netted birds at distances ranging from 2 to 1000 m from the development to assess the distance an individual would travel to use these permanent water sources. We analyzed samples from 1,431 birds and found that resident species (253 out of 394 individuals sampled) such as Gambel's Quail (Callipepla gambelii), White-winged Doves (Zenaida asiatica), Mourning Doves (Zenaida macroura), and House Finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) made extensive use of the water developments. Water developments contributed as much as 90% of the water found in the body water pools of some species (e.g. White-winged Doves, Mourning Doves and House Finches). Other species such as Northern Mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottos), Gila Woodpeckers (Melanerpes uropygialis), and Phainopeplas (Phainopepla nitens) made limited use (29 out of 91 individuals sampled) of these developments during the summer months. In contrast, very few Neotropical migrants (9 out of 364 individuals sampled) used these developments during their northward migration in the spring. For small, resident species, such as Verdin (Auriparus flaviceps), Black-tailed Gnatcatcher (Polioptila melanura), Lucy's Warbler (Vermivora luciae), and Black-throated Sparrow (Amphispiza bilineata), these permanent water sources appear to be of limited importance to their daily water balance.
Arizona Department of Game and Fish.
Deuterium, doves, finches, neotropical migratory birds, tracers, xeroriparian washes
Level of Degree
UNM Biology Department
First Committee Member (Chair)
Second Committee Member
Hyde, Theresa. "Stable isotopes provide insight into the use of wildlife water developments by resident and migrant birds in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona." (2011). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/biol_etds/54