World Shorebird Day

Despite a failed search for early migrant warblers in the morning (just lots of yellowstarts), I rushed out to Mill Creek Marsh in the afternoon - as Rick Wright was looking at a stilt sandpiper.

This is a bird I've been trying to hit all year, so how auspicious that on World Shorebird Day I was able to park the car and walk right up to it, resting and preening on the flood tide amidst a host of yellowlegs and least peeps.

Tides over six feet, like today's, flood all the resting habitat for shorebirds at Mill Creek - even the phragmite edges, and push the birds into an impoundment filled with ancient cedar stumps, where they jostle for position;

Five species of wader on one stump is pretty good for urban New Jersey (did you spot the dowitcher?)

Stilt Sandpipers are talented birds, managing to look huge next to short-billed dowitchers, and tiny next to Greater Yellowlegs....

This guy's showing off a little now, exhibiting high degrees of rhynchokinesis - the controlled flexibility in the upper mandible that aids searching for and manipulating prey you can't see.

Interestingly, rhynchokinesis is believed to have evolved independently in at least 7 shorebird lineages. 

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I work in NYC and own a wildlife and wilderness agency specializing in the southern cone of South America. I still do some guiding down there, especially looking for Fuegian and Patagonian avifauna. I'm particularly interested in the wintering ecology of neotropical migrants, and in avian biogeography in general. You can follow me at - @domhall And find me at - AventuraArgentina.com