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Posts Tagged ‘Actitis macularius’

I spotted this Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius) on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. There are a lot of sandpipers that are similar in appearance, so I was not sure what kind it was when I took these shots. As I looked through my bird identification guide, however, I realized that the spots on the bird’s chest and the orange bill made it quite easy to identify, because these traits are distinctive for breeding Spotted Sandpipers.

I was intrigued to learn on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website that the female Spotted Sandpiper is the one who establishes and defends the territory—she arrives at the breeding grounds earlier than the male, unlike in other species of migratory birds, where the male establishes the territory and arrives earlier. More amazingly, the male of this species takes the primary role in parental care, incubating the eggs and taking care of the young. Wow!

Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Last weekend I spotted a shorebird in the distance while exploring Huntley Meadows Park. It was sharing a log with several turtles. Initially the little bird stayed on the opposite end of the log from the turtles. Gradually the curious and energetic bird moved closer and closer to the turtles. I couldn’t tell for sure, but it looked like the bird came close to pecking one of the legs of a turtle. Perhaps the bird was surprised when the turtle reacted or the turtle made a threatening move, but in any case the bird flew off after the brief encounter.

I was pretty conftdent that the bird was some kind of sandpiper, but I have never seen one with these markings. I posted to a Facebook group and got a quick response. What was the sandpiper I had spotted? It turned out to be a Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius).

Spotted Sandpiper

 

Spotted Sandpiper

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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A Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius) at Huntley Meadows Park seemed overwhelmed with curiosity as a female Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) swam closer and closer. What were they thinking as they checked out each other?

I love to capture multiple species in a single image, particularly when they seem to be interacting with each other. In this case, the differences in size, shape, coloration, and body position make for some fascinating contrasts.

encounter1_2May_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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