Maplewood: October 10th 2009

I spent a few hours at Maplewood yesterday and there were several good birds active on the mudflats. Besides the large numbers of American Widgeons several Bufflehead and a single female Lesser Scaup were diving to the southeast of the viewing area. On saltwater Lesser Scaup and Bufflehead predominately consume invertebrates such as crustaceans, and molluscs (Gauthier 1993, Austin et al 1998). Green-winged Teal were also present close to shore and I spotted a lone Northern Shoveler intermixed with a raft of American Widgeon. Various gull species (Mew, Glaucous-winged, Thayer’s, and Ring-billed) were on shore and in the water.

Two Greater Yellowlegs were foraging near the Blueridge Creek outflow in the northern section of the mudflats and two Killdeer were also at the same location. During the day Greater Yellowlegs acquire food through swift stabs at the surface. On mudflats their main prey is small aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates (Elphick and Tibbitts 1998).

Shortly after sighting the Yellowlegs I observed two Long-billed Dowitchers foraging in classic sewing machine like feeding behaviour in the shallows. Dowitcher’s feed primarily on polychaetes, bivalves, and amphipods present in soft muddy substrate (Takekawa and Warnock 2000). They detect their prey through the use of tactile receptors known as Herbst corpuscles at the tip of their bill (Burton 1972).

Both Short and Long-billed Dowitchers are in non-breeding plumage during fall migration making identification in the field very difficult. In addition to consulting numerous field guides I have found this article by Cin-Ty Lee and Andrew Birch on the surfbirds website to be particularly helpful.

I find it particularly interesting how the two species of shorebirds I observed yesterday differ in bill physiology and foraging behaviour and so can coexist on the same stretch of mudflat.

References:

Gauthier, Gilles. 1993. Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/bna/species/067doi:10.2173/bna.67

Austin, Jane E., Christine M. Custer and Alan D. Afton. 1998. Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/bna/species/338doi:10.2173/bna.338

Elphick, Chris S. and T. Lee Tibbitts. 1998. Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/bna/species/355doi:10.2173/bna.355

Takekawa, John Y. and Nils Warnock. 2000. Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/bna/species/493doi:10.2173/bna.493

Burton, P. J. K. 1972. The feeding techniques of Stilt Sandpipers and dowitchers. San Diego Soc. Nat. Hist., Trans. 17:63-68.

Advertisements

1 Response to “Maplewood: October 10th 2009”


  1. 1 How to lose weight July 16, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    Wasn’t Cinderella supposed to be mopping up messes anyway. If you think only women are fashion-conscious, you are very much mistaken. With so many proven benefits of oil, every bit of its popularity is worth it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s





%d bloggers like this: