Thursday, January 17, 2013
Semipalmated Sandpipers (well, actually NOT)
One of the best parts (in my mind) of writing a blog is the education I've gained from researching what I'm writing about. Today, I learned that these birds, which I had ID'd as Semipalmated Sandpipers, are actually Sanderlings. A big thank-you to professional bird photographer Mia McPherson for pointing out an easy way to tell the difference when both birds are in their similar non-breeding plumage: The shape of the end of the bill (check out the photo below to see the heavier, bulbous end compared to a Semipalmated Sandpiper's narrow, finer bill).
So... here's my original post, edited to reflect the correct bird ID. Thanks again, Mia!
Some of my favorite birds to watch while we were out east in October were (NOT) the Semipalmated Sandpipers but rather Sanderlings. From the house we could look out at the shore and see all these bright white butts sticking up in the air. Then they'd scurry around and run back in toward the water line, butts once again up in the air as they dug out tasty snails and teeny crabs. (this is apparently a trait that Semipalmateds do not exhibit often, but Sanderlings are constantly scurrying back and forth)
Another easy way to tell the difference between Sanderlings and Semipalmated Sandpipers is that Semipalmated have a hind toe that is easily visible. These Sanderlings, as shown above, do not.
These birds were on their way from their breeding grounds in the arctic tundra and Hudson Bay, to their winter grounds in Central America and coastal areas all around South America.