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There is a group of small shorebirds that can be very difficult to identify.  Members of this group include plovers, sanderlings and sandpipers.  Some of the plovers are easy to identify, such as my favorite: the Kildeer.

But many of the others are in a spectrum of grey to brown and don’t have something as helpful as an orange eye to guide you.  I believe I recently saw a Spotted Sandpiper.  You see, the spots are not as spotty as the guidebooks show, but no other sandpipers have spots (as far as I know).  In addition, the winter plumage involves no spots, so this could be from molting.

Solitary Sandpipers, for example, don’t have spots on their bellies and their beaks are grey.  Also, Spotted Sandpipers have this white curve at the top of their wings.

I really do enjoy looking at shorebirds walking around and poking at stuff.  This guy and I did a dance where I would advance, he would creep away.  Rinse and repeat.

He even has spots on his underside.

Last November I took some pictures of a Spotted Sandpiper in non-breeding plumage.  You can see that it’s the same look without the spots.

And from the side you can see the same white patch above his wing.

2 Responses to “Spotted Sandpiper: Breeding and Non-Breeding Plumage”

  1. Mary says:

    What great pictures! Kildeer are also my favorites. We actually had to alter our running route a few years ago because it took us past a kildeer nest and we kept upsetting the female. They are so adorable!

    It’s been too hot and we’ve been too busy to get much birding in lately, but I’m hoping that will change soon!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks Mary! I hope it cools for you. We’ve been getting very cold mornings so I know fall is coming.