Shorebirds: Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Photo of Buff-breasted Sandpiper

After work on Monday, I dashed to the beach in Biddeford Pool, ME, hoping to see my first Buff-breasted Sandpiper. A scaly juvenile had been seen there on Sunday afternoon (according to a report on Maine Birds) and was still present at mid-day on Monday (according to a report on eBird), so my odds were looking favorable. The majority of Buff-breasted Sandpipers migrate through the middle of the continent on their way to South America to spend the winter, but a rare few visit New England annually in late August and September.

During migration, Buff-breasted Sandpipers most often stop and feed in dry, open places, like plowed farm fields, short-grass prairies, and, in the case of the bird I was looking for, upper sections of beach covered with decaying seaweed. I'm happy to report the bird was foraging among the seaweed when I arrived. (To view the following images in full-size, click here.)

Note: According to Bird Life International, "the species was brought to near extinction in the early 1920s by hunting" with an estimated 16,000-84,000 individuals remaining today from a population that may have been more than a million around 1900. Exposure to agricultural toxins have likely also taken their toll on these birds -- yet another reason to move away from chemical-dependent industrial agriculture toward regenerative plant and animal polycultures.

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