Sanderling

Hey guys, welcome back! Today we have another shorebird. This one, however is a bit unique from the other shorebirds we’ve taken a look at thus far. The sanderling is a tundra-breeding sandpiper and its US range differs from many others. They are found during migration in the middle of the country (in between the Rockies and Appalachians) but they winter along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts from the northern US to South America. In fact, in terms of worldwide range, they are one of the most widely distributed shorebirds, found in every continent on earth, except Antarctica.

Because of this, we don’t see them in full on breeding plumage all that often. That plumage is kind of a rusty mottling with white sides and underparts. Luckily for us though, they are one of the few “peeps” with a distinctive non-breeding plumage. Instead of being a drab mix of grays and browns like most of their cousins, non-breeding sanderlings a pale gray and clean white with black legs and a black bill.

Their habits are also distinctive. Unlike a lot of sandpipers that slowly probe the mud, sanderlings love the beach. They are usually seen chasing waves. As the waves crash in, the sanderlings run away from the incoming water, then chase the receding water to nab small invertebrates washed in. So look for groups of sandpipers running back and forth with the waves! Sticking with the ocean, next time we’ll look at the long-tailed duck! See you then

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