Rainwater Basins and Playa Wetlands: What Are the Differences?

May 13, 2013

Credit Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

A 21-county area of south central Nebraska is home to thousands of rainwater basins. These basins are identical in function to the wetlands of the southern plains known as playas, but different forces formed rainwater basins and playas.

While ephemeral, the region's climate and precipitation cause the basins to hold water longer than the playas to the south. Lush plant and invertebrate life provide needed rest-stop habitat for migratory birds on their way north in late-winter to nest. The region has been losing rainwater basins, but efforts are underway to convince landowners of the importance of guarding these wetlands for bird habitat.