Thursday, August 29, 2013

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Shorebirds - White-rumped Sandpiper...

Continuing my posts on shorebirds of Jamaica Bay, today's post features the White-rumped Sandpiper, one of our long winged peep. This is a bird that in the past and especially this summer I noticed many birders (experienced ones at that) on the East Pond at Jamaica Bay having a tough time nailing down the ID; I found this was especially so, when presented with a number of attenuated looking Semipalmated Sandpipers.  Keeping in mind, there are those birds that are always going to give even the most experienced and careful birder problems due to features that fail to match up to what a given species is supposed to look like. There are several key field marks that birders should carefully use from the many literature in field guides.  In addition, often overlooked clues include structure and behavior.

This, is the type of "critical thinking" birding that requires patience.  Focusing on behavior and structure - A couple of things to look for include the behavior, where WRSA, tend to wander out further into water than the smaller peeps.  If you look at their feeding posture, White-rumped Sandpipers, tend to tilt forward as they feed and from a distance (easier seen) a careful observer will note the crossed wings a feature that the long winged peeps have and a distinctive field mark that could suggest either White-rumped Sandpiper or Baird's the other long winged peep.  Review your field guides for other field marks to look for in identifying White-rumped Sandpiper.

Note: that a very chubby or fattened White-rumped Sandpiper, may not have that attenuated look, so work the bird carefully making sure it passes all the field tests before making the call.  Here are a few photos of White-rumped Sandpiper in different plumage.

White-rumped Sandpiper, Spring 2013 in Queens NY

White-rumped Sandpiper, Summer 2013 in Queens NY

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