In west Texas. when sandpipers are mentioned, it brings to mind little birds pecking around in the desert. At least, that to the un-informed. Meaning the non-birder. Well, we out here do have rivers, albeit small in comparison of the giants waterways of the mid-west and the east. We also have lakes, albeit all man-made, with the lone exception of Caddo Lake in east Texas.
Sandpipers are little skitterish little birds that scamper along the shorelines feeding in the shallow water. There are many other shore birds besides the sandpipers but we’ll get into those another day. The problem with these species is that all resemble one another, making identification difficult. I have six photographs here, and I dearly hope that I haven’t got them mixed up or mis-identified. It was good practice for me to write this.
First we have the Stilt Sandpiper (Calidris himantopus). 8.5 inches, weight 2 oz. Wingspan 18 in. Long legs and a slightly drooping bill.
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca). Similar to the sandpipes but a little larger. 14 inches, weight 6 oz. and 28 in. wingspan. They forage after small fish, and bob their when alarmed. It has a slghtly upturned bill.
The Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria) is smaller than the yelowlegs. 8.5 in. 1.8 oz and 22 inch wingspan. It has a distinctive spectacle eye-ring.
The Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri) is a tiny thing weighing less than an ounce. 6.5 inches tall with a wingspan of only 14 inches. Has a bit mor rufous color.
The Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia) 7.5 inches, 8 oz., and 26 inch wingspan. It is a little larger and heavier, and has striking markings when seen in flight.
And last and certainly the least is the Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla). Only 6 inches tall, weighs .7 oz, and has wingspan of only 13 inches. Has small head, thin pointed bill, and crouching posture.
I hope you enjoyed these pictures of some of our popular sandpiper type birds. More shorebirds will follow in another post. Click on any photo to see an enlargement.