BCR 18 - Shortgrass Prairie |
The Shortgrass Prairie lies in the rainshadow of the Rocky Mountains, where arid conditions greatly limit the stature and diversity of vegetation. Some of the continent's highest priority birds breed in this area, including the Mountain Plover, McCown's Longspur, Long-billed Curlew, Ferruginous Hawk, Burrowing Owl, and Lesser Prairie-Chicken. Reasons for the precarious status of these birds are poorly understood, but could involve a reduction in the diversity of grazing pressure as bison and prairie dogs have largely been replaced by cattle. For migrants, it is possible that conditions on wintering grounds could also be having a negative impact. Numerous rivers, such as the Platte, drain out of the Rockies through this region toward the Mississippi Valley. These formerly created broad, braided, and treeless wetlands heavily used by migrating waterfowl, shorebirds, and cranes. Hydrological simplification has resulted in invasion of trees and shrubs that support breeding eastern riparian birds, but otherwise greatly reduce the value of the areas as wetlands. The Playa Lakes area in the southern portion of this region consist of numerous shallow wetlands that support many wintering ducks, migrant shorebirds, and some important breeding species such as the Snowy Plover.
ABC-designated Globally Important Bird Areas in
Cimarron National Grassland
Comanche National Grassland
Pawnee National Grasslands