Monday, January 7, 2013

Least Sandpiper

Least Sandpipers breed across northern North America from Alaska to Nova Scotia. They winter in the southern United States south through central South America. Although they are common migrants across most of the United States, eastern populations may make flights up to 4000 km over the Atlantic Ocean from New England to northern South America (Nebel and Cooper 2008).

This sandpiper is recognized by its small size, dark brown back, and yellowish or (as in this case) greenish legs. Most, if not all, other small New World sandpipers (peeps) have black legs. Observers should beware of much larger shorebirds that also sport yellowish legs, including Wilson’s Phalaropes, Pectoral Sandpipers, and, of course, the yellowlegs. Least Sandpipers foraging in mud may have their leg color hidden. This least Sandpiper was photographed near Aberdeen, South Dakota.

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