Saturday, September 18, 2021

American Pipit

Flocks of American Pipits greeted Erika and me at the Billy Frank Jr National Wildlife Refuge on 13 September 2021. We counted 35 in two flocks, one near the refuge headquarters, the other in front of an increasing tide along the estuary boardwalk. We listed this species already this year in the subalpine meadows of Mount Rainier, where they breed. At lower elevations, they are migrants. I think I have pointed out before the long back claw on pipit toes. This feature is typical of ground-walking birds.
Erika and I returned to Nisqually on 16 September. The wave of migrants seemed to have dissipated. To our surprise, however, three pipits flew up and landed on the estuary boardwalk handrail. We usually do not see pipits perched on anything but the ground. These three birds proceeded to feed on the boardwalk itself. We wondered what the birds were finding to eat.

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