Saturday, May 21, 2011

Solitary Sandpiper; Early May Migration through Northern Illinois

A Solitary Sandpiper, Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserve, Rockford, IL; 5/10/2011.
Along with the Spotted Sandpiper which arrived in Late April, the Solitary Sandpiper (Above) is one of the first of shorebirds I have seen this spring. I am just learning to identify the many different types of shorebirds there are, so I am hoping I will add many new Lifers this spring and summer as I identify more of these. I have seen the Solitary Sandpiper in three different areas within the first week of May: Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserve, Espenscheid Forest Preserve, and Rock Cut State Park. They can be found searching for insects and insect larvae, spiders, worms, and tadpoles in mud flats of freshwater creeks and shallow waters of marshes near wooded areas. When we see them in northern Illinois, they are in the midst of their migration to Canada and Alaska where they will spend their summers.

A Solitary Sandpiper,exploring a marsh in Rock Cut State Park,
Rockford, IL; 5/8/2011.
These sandpipers are very similar to the Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, but their legs aren't as bright yellow and their size is much smaller at 8.5 " in length. Solitary Sandpipers have dark wings with white spots on its wings and back, and have a very clean white belly and under the tail, but have fine brown streaks on its breast.
A Solitary Sandpiper checking out its reflection,
Espenscheid Forest Preserve, Rockford, IL; 5/4/2011.

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