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home : • birding w/don reimer : birding w/don reimer
January 29, 2020


6/5/2008 1:43:00 PM
Migrating Shorebirds Arriving and Passing Through -
Adult Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow (left) and Greater Yellowlegs (right) photographed at Weskeag Marsh last month.  Photo by Don Reimer
Adult Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow (left) and Greater Yellowlegs (right) photographed at Weskeag Marsh last month. Photo by Don Reimer
Wilson’s Phalarope (left) and Black-bellied Plover (right)  Photo by Don Reimer
Wilson’s Phalarope (left) and Black-bellied Plover (right) Photo by Don Reimer
by Don Reimer


During mid-May the pace of northward bird migration accelerates greatly. Shorebirds arrive at Maine marshes to spend a few days fattening up in preparation for their long non-stop journey to tundra breeding grounds. Within a half hour, I spotted a dozen species of shorebirds feeding in the panne areas near the roadside parking area. Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrows have also arrived to nest in the grassy margins of the marsh.

Black-bellied Plover is a large plover species with a high-pitched, plaintive call. Adult males show a prominent black belly and a whitish crown.

Greater Yellowlegs are characterized by their long, slightly upturned bill and bright yellow legs. They forage for small fish amid the Weskeag pools, and will occasionally swim short distances.

Despite its contradictory name, the Short-billed Dowitcher has a relatively long bill used to probe in the mud with a sewing-machine feeding action.

Nesting primarily in the western plains regions, Wilson's Phalaropes are rather uncommon in the eastern U.S. They capture food by spinning around and around in shallow pools, stirring up tiny prey items. Unlike most other species of birds, female phalaropes (pictured) are more richly colored than their mates.

The distinctive Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow has short, pointed tail feathers. As ground nesters, these sparrows must coordinate their nesting activity with the monthly high-tide cycles.





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