Thursday, September 13, 2018

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

On 28 August 2018, birders reported seeing a Buff-breasted Sandpiper at a nearby, Dakota County sod farm. This habitat is excellent for this shorebird, which prefers upland areas to the mudflats favored by other shorebirds. Erika and I, despite the rainy afternoon, had little trouble locating the bird, which appeared to be feeding on worms alongside muddy puddles in the fields.

I have only seen Buff-breasted Sandpipers about a dozen times. One reason is that they breed along the Arctic coasts of Alaska and western Canada. They winter in Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil. In the continental United States, this sandpiper is only a migrant, with restricted habitat preferences and, especially in the spring, a limited range (over a narrow band of the eastern Great Plains). These factors make it difficult to census Buff-breasted Sandpipers. Most studies suggest that populations are declining. Others maintain that numbers fluctuate from year to year. More srtidy is needed (McCarty et al. 2017).

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