Semipalmated Sandpiper 8/27/10

Semipalmated Sandpipers are the most numerous of the shorebirds currently coming through Seapoint on their way south. Adults arrive first, starting in late July with the biggest concentrations in mid- to late August, when large numbers of juveniles also start arriving. Right now both age classes are overlapping and in the photo above, you can see one of each. The adult is in the foreground, it’s a small-sized peep (about 6.5 inches) with an all dark and straight sandpiper bill and all dark legs, a streaked breast and a bit of speckling down the flanks of the wings. The juvenile in the background is softer and more golden, with more brown on the back and its breast streaks are more of a blush than distinct streaks. There’s little or no speckling down the flanks, and the back and wing scapulars are strongly patterned with white edging on some of the feathers, which is typical of many juvenile sandpipers. If you’re just learning shorebirds, knowing the common plumages of this bird can be a great help, since once you’re familiar with them, anything different tends to stands out in the crowd.

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