Shorebirds

We see a lot of shorebirds during migration season. Most only stop over for a while before heading further north to breed. Piping Plovers, for example, do breed along the Massachusetts shore and many beach areas are closed off to protect them. But this Semipalmated Plover will keep moving north to breed in the Arctic.

Willets, on the other hand, do breed here. They are constantly calling their name: “Willet! Willet!”. They are pretty dull looking when on land and can be hard to spot in the marsh grass. But when they fly, the white on their wings is striking.

The mud flats have plentiful invertebrates that attract all kinds of shorebirds and the birds often intermingle. This is a flock of Lesser Yellowlegs that was joined by a single Semipalmated Plover and one Greater Yellowlegs. The size difference between the Greater and Lesser is noticeable. The Greater Yellowlegs’ beak is also much longer in proportion to the head than the beak of the Lesser.

This is a handsome looking Dunlin in breeding plumage. The black underside and rusty colored back only appear on breeding adults. There is also a second Dunlin facing away from the camera, a Lesser Yellowlegs and a few small Semipalmated Sandpipers.

Next…some nesting photos.

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