Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Spotted Sandpiper

Along with invertebrates, I also saw a few interesting birds during my recent stroll along Carleton College’s Lyman Lakes. One of these was this young Spotted Sandpiper. (For a photo of a breeding plumaged bird, see my previous post on the species.)

This young bird was with an adult, presumably a male. Males have higher levels of prolactin than females—a hormone that facilitates parental care in many vertebrates. Spotted Sandpipers have reversed sex roles—females are larger and more aggressive than males. They arrive to breeding areas first and defend territories. They then court males, lots of males. One female may have several mates, which assume care of the eggs and young. One Minnesota Spotted Sandpiper “laid five clutches for three males in 43 days” (Reed et al. 2013).

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