Sep 072014
 


This Saturday marks the first World Shorebird Day, a day to celebrate these beautiful birds and raise awareness for their conservation. Shorebirds nest and migrate along beaches and grasslands, and are known to have some of the most impressive migrations in the animal kingdom.

They’re an incredibly diverse group of birds, consisting of plovers, oystercatchers, avocets, stilts, and sandpipers, and are usually characterized by long legs and beaks for feeding in the sand. Shorebirds also make fantastic parents, with male and female pairs often splitting their time incubating eggs while the other forages for food.

Unfortunately, habitat degradation, pollution, and hunting in earlier centuries have caused for the decline of many of these species. Shorebirds also play crucial roles in ecosystems and food chains, feasting on fish, shellfish, insects, and mollusks.

A black skimmer (Rynchops niger) in Florida. (Photo: Matthew Paulson / Flickr Creative Commons)

To celebrate the first installment of World Shorebird Day, take a look below at five different shorebird species that all have unique traits.

When you’re done learning about them, don’t forget to cast your vote for your favorite species below.

We will reveal the winner on social media on Friday, September 12!

1. Red Knot (Calidris canutus)

Red knots in Delaware. (Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region / Flickr Creative Commons)

Red knots are one of the longest-distant migrants out of any bird species, making an impressive 9,000-mile-long migrations from Arctic breeding grounds to southern South America each year. Perhaps what they’re most known for, however, are their stopovers each spring in Delaware Bay and the mid-Atlantic coast, where red knots time their migrations with horseshoe crab spawning. Red knots feast on horseshoe crab eggs to fuel their migration, and the sea of red that swarms the area each year is certainly one sight to see.

2. American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus)

American oystercatcher in Dead Horse Bay, New York. (Photo: Steven Severinghaus / Flickr Creative Commons)

American oystercatcher in Dead Horse Bay, New York. (Photo: Steven Severinghaus / Flickr Creative Commons)

This shorebird has a striking orange-red color beak that vibrantly contrasts against black-and-brown feather plumages. Oystercatchers are aptly-named for their abilities to forage for and open shellfish and bivalves, like clams, mussels, and oysters. These birds nest on the U.S. East Coast and West Coast south of  Baja California.

3. Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus)

A piping plover in the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, Massachusetts. (Photo: Matt Poole / USFWS / Flickr Creative Commons)

A piping plover in the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, Massachusetts. (Photo: Matt Poole / USFWS / Flickr Creative Commons)

Piping plovers are some of the smallest, cutest shorebirds—but also some of the most threatened. They’re found along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, as well as inland and around the Great Plains. Degradation of their beach-nesting habitat, as well as harassment by people, dogs, and vehicles have led to populations becoming both threatened and endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

4. Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)

A caspian tern over Elliott Bay, Washington. (Photo: Ingrid Taylar / Flickr Creative Commons)

A caspian tern over Elliott Bay, Washington. (Photo: Ingrid Taylar / Flickr Creative Commons)

Caspian terns are the largest tern species, and are easily distinguished from other species by its bright red bill and black cap. These terns prefer flat rocky islands, sandy beaches, and partially vegetated areas for nesting, and are found on all continents except Antarctica. Caspians aggressively defend their nests when threatened, and are known to have actually caused bloody wounds on people who enter their colony.

5. Long-Billed Curlew (Numenius americanus)

A long-billed curlew in Santa Clara County, California. (Photo: K Schneider / Flickr Creative Commons)

A long-billed curlew in Santa Clara County, California. (Photo: K Schneider / Flickr Creative Commons)

This sandpiper species is the largest shorebird in North America, with a bill that’s over a third of its body length and wings that can stretch for nearly three feet. It uses its bill to probe in sand and mudflats for worms, shrimp, and crabs, as well as a few insects.  These birds nest in western North America, and migrate to Mexico or the coast for the winter season.

This article was written by Brian Elliott for Oceana.org

Share this post with your friends





Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply

avatar
wpDiscuz

Top-Viewed Posts Last 30 Days

  1. POLL: Should Trump’s elephant trophy hunting plan be stopped? – [1184 Views]
  2. POLL: Should babies be allowed to buy hunting licenses? – [1073 Views]
  3. POLL: Should big-game and canned, trophy hunting be banned? – [1017 Views]
  4. POLL: Should wild horses be protected from roundups and slaughter? – [899 Views]
  5. POLL: Should South Africa strictly enforce its anti-poaching legislation? – [819 Views]
  6. Florida Opened a Fake Alligator Farm to Catch Poachers – [806 Views]
  7. POLL: Should African Grey Parrots be protected from illegal trafficking? – [804 Views]
  8. POLL: Should gillnets be banned in the Upper Gulf to save the Vaquita? – [780 Views]
  9. POLL: Should the use of animals in circuses be banned? – [757 Views]
  10. POLL: Should international shipping of shark fins be banned? – [756 Views]

Top-Viewed Posts Last 12 Months

  1. POLL: Should hunting with hounds be banned? – [7663 Views]
  2. Gray Squirrels versus Red Squirrels – The Facts [5832 Views]
  3. POLL: Should the trophy hunting of bears and wolves be banned? – [3832 Views]
  4. POLL: Should foxes be culled to protect domestic pets? [3799 Views]
  5. POLL: Should there be a worldwide ban on fur farming? – [3650 Views]
  6. POLL: Should the slaughter of badgers in the UK be finally stopped? – [3065 Views]
  7. POLL: Should the cruel sport of bullfighting be banned? [2873 Views]
  8. POLL: Should Canada ban the hunting of seals? [2667 Views]
  9. POLL: Should the Tories be allowed to bring back fox hunting? [2578 Views]
  10. POLL: Should wild elephants be sold to Chinese zoos? [2322 Views]