Monday, September 1, 2014

Image Gallery: juvenile Western Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper. San Elijo Lagoon, Cardiff-By-The-Sea, California. August 17, 2014. Greg Gillson.
The first juvenile Western Sandpiper of the fall that I have noted. Adults first appeared in early July. These are abundant migrants in the West on ocean beaches and mudflats inland.


The dark wing covert centers with broad, pale edges and hints of rufous on the shoulder indicate juvenile plumage--a bird perhaps 6 weeks old, just arrived from the Arctic. All 6 week-olds can migrate alone from the Arctic and find their way south to join the earlier migrating adults in South American, can't they?

Map of range of Western Sandpiper throughout the year.


Bill long (longer than head) and drooped at the tip, and black legs identify Western Sandpiper from among the smaller shorebirds of the West. Baird's Sandpiper and the rare Semipalmated Sandpiper, and the larger Dunlin are similar.


The Western Sandpiper above shows the partial webs between toes, called "semipalmated."


The scientific name of Western Sandpiper is Calidris mauri, given in 1838 by Charles Bonaparte for his friend Ernesto Mauri. Think how different European history might have been had Napoleon taken up ornithology like his nephew Charles.