Date: 9/10/17 6:14 pm
From: Chris Hobbs <chobbs.f1...>
Subject: Re: Subject: Playa
Sounds like 'lagoon' for some, 'playas' for others, and 'floodles' for
those who like informal, yet descriptive names.

Chris Hobbs

On Sep 10, 2017 6:55 PM, "Tom SHANE" <tom.shane...> wrote:

> Mr. Burkepile and Kansas birders, I have thought about your question
> several times in recent decades, but did not follow-up on the topic. The
> first playa where I remember watching birds was just northwest of the town
> of Plains in western Meade County on July 4th, 1964. There was a good
> variety of birds there, including a male Cinnamon Teal along with
> Yellow-headed Blackbirds which I recorded in my field notes. I recorded the
> place as a marsh. When Sara, a Scott County native, and I were first
> married she, along with her father, uncle and brothers just called them
> ponds. We both call them playas now, but cannot give you a date of the
> transition.
> The following is only a scratch on the surface of the topic. I made a
> quick check of the publications in my library that could shed some light on
> the subject. The index for the Transaction of the Kansas Academy of Science
> (TKAS) covering the period 1872 through 1965, has no entries for playa. The
> run of publications including a thesis, directories and Birds in or of
> Kansas, including: Long 1935; Goodrich 1946; Tordoff 1956; Johnston 1960,
> 1964, & 1965; Rising 1974; Thompson and Ely 1989; do not mention playas in
> the opening sections of those publications. TEGOPSY (2011) Birds of Kansas
> mentions “ephemeral playas” once in the paragraph on natural lakes. Mosby &
> Lynn (1956) Water Birds Resident in Kansas in Summer, 1955. TKAS, does not
> list types of water features other than lakes & ponds. Zuvanich & McHenry
> (1964) Comparisons of Water Birds Observed in Kansas in 1955 and 1963.
> TKAS, mention water features such as: sewer lake, marsh, state & city
> lakes, reservoir, pond, slough, and surface water. It is apparent that they
> called playas, “surface water” by the locations mentioned. The first paper
> on birds and playa lakes in Kansas was most likely by Tom Flowers (1996)
> Classification and Occurrence of the Birds of the Playa Lakes of Meade
> County, Kansas. KOS Bull. 47(2): 21-28., <
> bulletin/Vol47No2.pdf>.
> Doc Sutton in his 1967 book, Oklahoma Birds, does not mention playa but
> apparently describes one nicely ------ “Webb Lake (near Hardesty, Texas
> County), an impressive body of water when there has been plenty of rain,
> but dry as a bone in periods of severe drought.” Baumgartner & Baumgartner
> (1992) Oklahoma Bird Life, has a photo of and labels the picture a Playa
> Lake, north of Boise City.
> I checked the book by Ken Seyffert (2001) Birds of the Texas Panhandle,
> where he dedicates half a page to the subject of playas scattered across
> the Texas Panhandle. He also cites older publications such as Simpson &
> Bolen (1981) Wildlife Assessment of Playa Lakes., US Bureau of Reclamation
> SW region Amarillo, Texas. In an older book mentioning playa by Oberholser
> (1974) Bird Life of Texas, he shows a photo of Muleshoe National Wildlife
> Refuge with the opening of the caption reading: “Sink-type-Lake --- or
> Playa --- on Panhandle.” I called Ken yesterday morning and asked him when
> the word playa was first mentioned in the Texas Panhandle literature. He
> was excited and thought that was a fabulous question. He stated that
> birders and others were using the word playa regularly when he first
> started bird watching at Amarillo in 1963. James Stevenson (1942) Birds of
> the Central Panhandle of Texas, Condor 44: 108-115; discusses the temporary
> lakes, but calls them “wet-weather” lakes. Arthur Hawkins (1945) Bird Life
> in the Texas Panhandle, The Panhandle-Plains Historical Review 18: 110-150;
> calls them playa lakes, and provides a nice brief discussion of bird groups
> to be expected at various water levels along with types of vegetation and
> the percent land coverage of the playas.
> The Texas Panhandle is often associated with southwestern offices of
> various government agencies and the word playa was probably used more
> frequently than those regional agencies Kansas was associated with. All but
> one university in Kansas are located far from the playa region in Kansas.
> Until you live in the middle of the playas of western Kansas, one does not
> appreciate the importance of them, especially to migrating birds. So the
> Kansas ornithology professors did not research or write anything about
> them. Dr Ely had students working on playa lakes, but that will have to be
> researched at another time as far as the use of the word playa in their
> theses. I have a copy of the thesis by Davis, but cannot find it. That
> compared to the universities and colleges situated in the middle of the
> playa zones of the Texas Panhandle. Texas Tech University has been a
> regional leader on the subject for a long time now. The highly visible
> PLJV, which started in 1988, has probably done more than any other factor
> in converting Kansas people and birders to using the word playa.
> For those in the need, you can find complete references on the ones I left
> very short, in: Thompson, Ely, Gress, Otte, Patti, Seibel, & Young (2011)
> Birds of Kansas, or in my book; Shane (2012) History of Ornithology - - -
> in Kansas <>
> So, Mr. Burkepile, please let us know what you find out from the
> old-timers up around Hoxie on what they call playa lakes, and thanks for
> bringing up the subject.
> Tom Shane
> Garden City
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