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Impacts of NRCS’ Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative

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NRCS swiftly launched the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill to enable farmers to create and enhance habitat for migratory birds, providing an alternative to habitat in impacted coastal ecosystems. NRCS invested $40 million in the initiative, which led to conservation practices implemented on more than 470,000 acres in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas.

Evaluation of the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative

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Download report (PDF, 795KB)

Mississippi State University completed a three-year evaluation of bird use of habitat and availability of food in rice fields, catfish ponds and wetlands managed through MBHI. The results were released in a report in fall 2014. This report includes findings that demonstrate the importance of landscape-level conservation efforts. The evaluation began in November 2010.

The study’s findings demonstrate:

  • Rice fields flooded early through MBHI were home to an average 15 migratory birds per acre, compared to two birds per acre on rice fields not flooded;
  • Catfish ponds flooded early showed heavy biodiversity with 40 species of ducks, shorebirds and other waterbirds visiting them;
  • Over seven times more migrating shorebirds were observed on shallowly flooded idled catfish ponds enrolled in MBHI than on other catfish ponds;
  • MBHI-enrolled catfish ponds in Mississippi met nearly all the established shorebird migration habitat goal for the region; and
  • MBHI-managed habitats provided up to 28 percent of the winter waterfowl food energy needed in the Mississippi Delta and up to 25 percent needed in southwestern Louisiana.

Download the report to learn more. (PDF, 795KB)

More on MBHI

MBHI is one of the agency’s Landscape Initiatives, which are temporary, targeted conservation efforts to address a particular conservation need, in this case habitat for wetland-dependent birds heading south.

NRCS uses the MBHI concept as the foundation for other similar NRCS efforts across the country, such as the Waterbird Habitat Enhancement Initiative in California. NRCS state offices in Louisiana and Texas also have continued to set aside funds for migratory bird habitat, continuing the investment made through MBHI.

Related Links:

NRCS homepage  Landscape Initiatives home  |   MBHI home