Bryan Brillhart Photography Presents “Dig Imperial Beach” Bird of the Week, the “Western Sandpiper”.
Nov 25, 2015 01:21PM
By Paul Spear
Bryan Brillhart of Bryan Brillhart Photography presents us with the “Bird of the Week”. This week’s bird is the “Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri)”.
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“Dig IB” Bird of the Week, the “Western Sandpiper ”
This week’s “Bird of the Week” is the Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri), a small shorebird. Adults have dark legs and a short, thin, dark bill, thinner at the tip. The body is brown on top and white underneath. They are reddish-brown on the crown. This bird can be difficult to distinguish from other similar tiny shorebirds.
A close relative of the Semipalmated Sandpiper. Western Sandpipers nest mostly in Alaska and migrate mostly along the Pacific Coast, but many reach the Atlantic Coast in fall and remain through the winter. Of the various dull gray sandpipers to be found commonly on coastal beaches in winter, the Western is the smallest.
The Western Sandpiper forages by walking in shallow water or on mud and probing in mud
with bill. It also feeds by searching visually and picking up items from the surface of the shore. It’s diet includes insects, crustaceans, mollusks, and marine worms. On breeding grounds, it eats mostly flies and beetles, and also other insects, spiders, small crustaceans. Their diet in migration and winter varies. On the coast, it eats many amphipods and other crustaceans, small mollusks, marine worms, i
nsects. Inland migrants eat mostly insects, and some seeds.
During nesting, the male sings while performing a display flight over the breeding territory. On ground, unmated males approach a female in a hunched posture, tail raised over its back; repeatedly giving a trilled call. Its nest site is on ground, usually under a low shrub or grass clump. Their nest is a shallow depression with a sparse lining of sedges, leaves, lichens. The male makes several nest scrapes, and the female chooses one.
The breeding female lays 4, sometimes 3, perhaps rarely 5 eggs that are whitish to brown,
with darker brown spots. Incubation is by both parents for about 21 days. At first, the female incubates from late afternoon to mid-morning. The male only incubates during mid-day, but the male's proportion increases later. The female sometimes departs before the eggs hatch. Downy young leave the nest a few hours after hatching. Sometimes both parents care for the
chicks, but often the female deserts them after a few days, leaving the male to care for the young. The young feed themselves. Age at first flight is about 17-21 days.
Look for the is small shorebird on our great beaches or in the Tijuana Estuary along the river flats and enjoy all the wild life that Imperial Beach has to offer.