My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Stilt Sandpiper, Calidris himantopus

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Stilt Sandpiper, Calidris himantopus

The Stilt Sandpiper is a small shorebird, it bears some resemblance to the smaller calidrid sandpipers or “stints”.

The Stilt Sandpiper breeds in the open arctic tundra of North America. It is a long-distance migrant, wintering mainly in northern South America.

This species nests on the ground, laying three or four eggs. The male has a display flight. Outside the breeding season, this bird is normally found on inland waters, rather than open coasts.

This species resembles the Curlew Sandpiper in its curved bill, long neck, pale supercilium and white rump. It is readily distinguished from that species by its much longer and paler legs, which give rise to its common and scientific names. It also lacks an obvious wing bar in flight.

Breeding adults are distinctive, heavily barred beneath, and with reddish patches above and below the supercilium. The back is brown with darker feather centers. Winter plumage is basically gray above and white below.

Juvenile Stilt Sandpipers resemble the adults in their strong head pattern and brownish back, but they are not barred below, and show white fringes on the back feathering.

These birds forage on muddy, picking up food by sight, often jabbing like the dowitchers with which they often associate. They mainly eat insects and other invertebrates.

On to my photos:

Stilt Sandpiper

Stilt Sandpiper

Stilt Sandpiper and European starling for size

Stilt Sandpiper and European starling for size

Stilt Sandpiper

Stilt Sandpiper

Stilt Sandpiper

Stilt Sandpiper

Stilt Sandpiper in flight

Stilt Sandpiper in flight

This is number 136 in my photo life list, only 214 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!



8 responses

  1. All of these shore wadres look almost identical to me, but this one’s long legs must make it a little easier to ID. The extra height must make finding food a little easier. You got some nice shots of them-I really like that first one.

    December 11, 2013 at 10:58 am

    • Thanks! A very small part of why they all look the same is that I photographed them in the fall, not that their spring breeding plumage is all that different. I think that you can imagine how frustrated I was, coming home with over 200 photos of birds that looked almost identical, then sorting through them to ID the birds.

      It gets easier as I go, yes, the long legs of this species makes it a little easier, but it looks very much like the two species of yellow legs because of the longer legs.

      Even more difficult to ID are the gulls, they have differing plumage for the first three to four years of life, so a juvenile of one species looks almost exactly like an adult of a different species. If you hear people talk about how hard it is to identify warblers, that’s nonsense, they are a piece of cake compared to shorebirds and gulls. 😉

      December 11, 2013 at 12:49 pm

  2. Beautiful detail!!

    December 11, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    • Thank you! The setting could have been nicer, but the bird came out well.

      December 11, 2013 at 1:23 pm

  3. Love that flight foto!!!

    December 15, 2013 at 10:35 am

    • Thanks Lori!

      December 15, 2013 at 11:56 am

  4. Yes, this is an easy one to recognize. Enjoyed reading about your last week, as well. It’s snowing here today and we need to fill the wood room asap.

    December 15, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    • Thanks Kathy! I hope you have lots of wood for the winter, I’m afraid that it’s going to be a long cold one.

      December 15, 2013 at 1:27 pm