Saturday, August 31, 2013

Migrating sandpipers.

Here's one.

Baird's Sandpiper (Calidris bairdii)

A significant percentage of fall migration is represented by "shorebirds." Many sandpipers, Family Scolopacidae, are among our longer distance migrating species.

Many of these are "tundra-nesters."  They spend their summer breeding season in the far-edges of northern latitudes.

Here's a range map for the Baird's Sandpiper as an example:

I came across this individual at the *Marathon Treatment Ponds in Brewster County, right here in our corner of the Chihuahuan Desert. When Heidi came by on her lunch break, there were two.

No doubt this bird was quite okay taking advantage of this body of water, even before it has been treated. As you see in the map above, this bird has a long ways yet to go.

A few ID tips on this species would include noting how the outer primary ("flight-feathers") feathers project beyond the tail.  In the photo above we can see a nearly solid black feather projecting further than the white-outlined tail feather.

Additionally, take a look at the first picture.  Notice the buffy breast.  This bird is a fairly "large" sandpiper, and that color existing on its breast also helps eliminate some possible species.  Yes, the bird's overall size does as well.

While water is a key component for many species, they still have to travel great distances, at times, to find another puddle.

While we have migration buzzing all around us right now, many species are nocturnal migrants.  That includes this featured sandpiper.

So look up and listen up.  Even overnight; perhaps particularly at night.

 If you hear the following late at night, you could be hearing the Baird's Sandpiper migrating overhead:

Well, in this recording you would be hearing several.

*Marathon Treatment Ponds are PRIVATE property.  We have been granted access.


  1. Nice post, and very helpful too.

    I've been doing some serious treatment plant scouring this August, with Phoenix migrations now in full effect.

    There've picked up some goodies like Semi-palm sandpiper, Semi-palm and Snowy Plover, Short-billed Dowitcher, and Stilt Sandpiper, but I'm still one the look for Baird's and Pectoral, which have, as of yet, not been reliably reported by myself or others in the Phoenix area.

    Still waiting on that Red Knot or Ruff too...

  2. Always humbled by the migration ranges. Thanks for the reminder/lesson.