Benefits following lake renovation efforts have been obvious for wild birds this spring at Pelican Lake at the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge.
On April 29th, there were thousands of fowl present as estimated by refuge staff. There were five to ten thousand ducks at the lake, according to Juan-Carlos Giese, refuge manager. This included a notable number of shorebirds.
Ten species were observed, according to a checklist available at ebird.org. Atop the list were estimated counts of 1000 for both the Ring-necked Duck and Wilson’s Phalarope. A count of 500 was estimated for Gadwall, American Wigeon and Mallard. Blue-winged Teal and Northern Shoveler were also very abundant. There was also a bunch of American Avocet.
A similar response has been observed at Watts Lake, Giese said.
In September 2018 this lake nearly 800 acres in extent, in association with an aquatic habitat renovation project – focused on getting rid of common carp – occurred at several large lakes at the refuge. This is a cooperative effort associated with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Ducks Unlimited is also involved with renovation of lakes east of Highway 83.
Getting rid of carp improves water clarity and notably improves conditions for the growth of aquatic vegetation. Wild birds throng to Sand Hill lakes where there is an abundance of vegetation and clear waters where they can feed.