Wintering Shorebirds

Birders fear groups like Empidonax flycatchers for difficulty of identification but I’ve discovered that for a variety of reasons, birders really crash on wintering plovers and especially small sandpipers. By far, the most important two field marks are the bill and legs (not unlike white egrets!). Each bill is surgically made to perfectly match the specific niche in which they feed.

Notice how much larger the head and eyes are in plovers, and normally how much shorter their bill is. These are the species which winter here and don’t expect bright colors and patterns. Note that plovers feed on the surface and most pipers probe.

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