American Golden-Plovers are uncommon late-summer and fall migrants in New England. Adults are first to arrive, typically in August and September, as they work their way south from their breeding grounds in the Arctic tundra. Juveniles follow and may linger in our area into November but, like their parents, have much more flying to do to reach their wintering grounds in southern South America. In the spring, most return to the Arctic by way of central North America.
American Golden-Plovers forage beside Black-bellied Plovers at coastal beaches and mudflats, and beside Pectoral Sandpipers, Killdeer, and less common Buff-breasted and Baird's Sandpipers, at golf courses, grassy airfields, and flooded farm fields.
To learn more about these long-distance migrants, visit All About Birds. To view the following images in full-size, click here.
juv. AMGP (left) with juv. BBPL [October]
Even as the white season approaches, Black-bellied Plovers continue to hunt for invertebrates on mud flats and beaches and in flooded fields throughout New England. Recognized at a distance by their stop-and-go foraging style and loud pee-o-wee whistle calls, these Arctic nesters prefer to keep their distance from onlookers.
While some of the time Black-bellied Plovers have black bellies (as adults during the breeding season; juveniles and non-breeding adults have white bellies), they have black armpits (technically axillaries) in all seasons.
To learn more about North America's largest plover, visit All About Birds. To view the following images in full-size, click here.
Stilt Sandpipers are uncommon, mid-sized shorebirds who nest in the tundra of northern Canada and Alaska. In New England, they're most often observed in July, August, and September, as they stop over to forage in shallow, standing water at both coastal and inland sites.
Stilt Sandpipers often feed by probing their bills into mud in sewing-machine-like fashion, much like dowitchers, or picking food off the surface like Lesser Yellowlegs. But whereas dowitchers have long, straight bills, and Lesser Yellowlegs have short, straight bills, Stilt Sandpipers have medium-length bills with an obvious droop, much like Dunlin.
To learn more about these waders with yellow-green legs, visit All About Birds. To view the following images in full-size, click here.
Hudsonian Godwits are large shorebirds with long, slightly upturned bills that are pink or orange near the base. In flight or when preening, they show a black tail, a white rump, and dark underwing coverts, features not shared by the slightly larger and longer-billed Marbled Godwit.
In late spring and early summer, Hudsonian Godwits breed in parts of Canada and Alaska, timing their efforts with the abundance of invertebrate species available during the green season. By late summer, adults head south (followed later by juvenile birds), with some touching down at select sites in New England, like flooded fields, coastal beaches, marshes, and mud flats, before continuing on to southern South America (many more are thought to fly non-stop for several days from Canada over the Atlantic Ocean to South America). Having experienced part of summer in the far north, those that successfully complete their incredible journey get to experience summer in the southern hemisphere as well.
To learn more about Hudsonian Godwits, visit All About Birds. To view the following images in full-size, click here.
A bright, red-orange bill and bubblegum colored legs make American Oystercatchers one of the easiest New England shorebirds to identify. Being easy to identify, however, doesn't mean they're easy to find. American Oystercatchers are listed as a species of special concern in Maine, which is the northern edge of their Atlantic coast range, with only 4 to 8 nesting pairs in the entire state.* If you live in coastal New England, or plan to visit this summer, and want a chance at finding an American Oystercatcher, help narrow your search by checking out recent sightings on eBird. Governed by rising and falling tides, American Oystercatchers forage at lower tides on mudflats, beaches, and shellfish beds. During high tide, they roost on islands or in coastal dunes.
To learn more about these large, bivalve-eating, pink-legged shorebirds, visit All About Birds. To view the following images in full-size, click here.
Black-bellied Plover (left) and adult American Oystercatcher
left to right: adult, juvenile, adult, juvenile
juveniles (left) and adult
*Maine 2015 Wildlife Action Plan Revision