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Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday's Foto

Much has been studied and written about the plight of the Red Knot, one of the longest distant migrants in the animal kingdom. Weighing on average a scant 5 ounces, every year many fly north from their wintering grounds in South America to breeding grounds in the arctic tundra - a round trip distance of close to 20,000 miles. One banded individual (B95) became known at "Moonbird" as its annual migrations between Tierra del Fuego, Argentina (where it was banded) and the Canadian Arctic have in total exceeded the distance to the Moon. I wrote about another bird from that area found in Brooklyn here.

Feeding on horseshoe crab eggs during critical migration stop offs, their numbers have been adversely affected by the overharvesting of the crabs in Delaware Bay. Habitat degradation and sea rise due to climate change have also reduced their populations. There are six recognized subspecies and in 2014 Calidris canutus rufus was listed as a federally "Threatened" under the Endangered Species Act.

Their scientific name, Calidris canutus, has some odd roots. Calidris means "grey-coloured water-side bird mentioned by Aristotle", as they are overall gray in non-breeding plumage. Canutus, according to one source, refers to King Canute (995–1035) of England, Denmark and Norway, who loved to eat these plump, little birds. Hmmm...

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