Thursday, November 3, 2016

Least Sandpiper

Least Sandpipers are common migrants across Washington. A few can be found at any time of year in Puget Sound (Bird Web). Most, however, winter in northeastern South America. They walk slowly while eating amphipods and other small arthropods. This sandpiper uses “surface tension transport,” using water surface tension to deliver prey to its mouth. Opening and closing its bill, the sandpiper moves drops of water containing the prey to its mouth (Prakash et al. 2008). The downside to this feeding technique is that it leaves the birds vulnerable to surface pollutants.

The species can usually be identified by its yellow legs and small size. We saw this individual in the tidal flats at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge on 20 September 2016.

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