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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Friday's Foto

The Buff-breasted Sandpiper is a lovely, medium-sized shorebird that is a rare, but regular migrant seen around NYC during their southbound migration in late summer. Sporting a rounded head and short bill they sometimes give the impression of a plover, rather than a sandpiper. They are long distance migrants breeding in extreme northern Alaska and western Canadian Arctic regions and overwintering on the pampas of Argentina. The Buff-breasted Sandpiper is the only North American shorebird that exhibits a lek mating system, in which males defend territories for the sole purpose of performing displays to attract females. Feeding almost exclusively on insects, they are sometimes referred to as a "grasspiper," due to their preference for grassy areas over coastal mudflats.

The IUCN Red List lists their conservation status as "Near Threatened". They are also on the 2016 State of the Birds Watch List. According to National Audubon, "Many were killed by market hunters in late 1800s and early 1900s. Much of habitat for migrating and wintering birds has been destroyed or degraded. Many migrants now forage in plowed farm fields; possible effects of agricultural chemicals on these birds are unknown."

Their scientific name, Calidris subruficollis, means grey-coloured water-side bird, reddish necked.

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