Posts Tagged ‘Shorebirds’

Doug Buri and Bob Janssen provide great information at their annual Shorebird Workshop.  Here are some of the useful tips that I learned from them:

  • Don’t agonize over determining leg color.  Instead, compare it to the color of the bill.  Is it the same or different?
  • If you find a sandpiper in a wooded pond, it’s probably a Solitary Sandpiper.  Spotted Sandpipers prefer more open habitat.
  • Stilt Sandpipers look similar to Lesser Yellowlegs, but their feeding styles are completely different.  Yellowlegs are dainty visual feeders.  Stilt Sandpipers probe for food in belly-deep water and frequently submerge their heads completely under water.
  • Feeding flocks of Short-billed Dowitchers are usually silent; flocks of Long-billed Dowitchers are generally noisy at any time of the year.
  • Dowitchers can be identified by plumage.  Experts Cin-Ty Lee and Andrew Birch explain it in this article.
  • How can you distinguish Greater Yellowlegs from Lesser Yellowlegs?  If it looks big enough to eat, it’s a Greater Yellowlegs.
  • Clark’s and Western Grebes can be distinguished by their call.  Clark’s call is a single “kreeek” and the Western Grebe call is “kreeek kreeek”.  Also, Clark’s have lighter sides and Western Grebes have sides the same color as the back.  (Yes, a grebe is not a shorebird.  We did look at a few other species.)

And some shorebird info from other sources:

  • Male Pectoral Sandpipers are much larger than females (96 grams vs. 65 grams) and are even heavier than Killdeer (90 grams).  This is so that they can puff themselves up to impress the females.
  • Any Western/Semipalmated type Sandpiper seen between mid-Nov and late March (except south Florida) is certain to be a Western.
  • Peeps are tough, but Cameron Cox provides a different approach that I found really helpful.  Identification of North American Peeps appeared in the July/August 2008 issue of Birding magazine.

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