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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Shorebird observations

We have been talking about shorebird size and shape and some of your have been practising making observations on shorebird photos.
Regarding the photos from yesterday's blog entry -

Both birds are medium-sized shorebirds, which is hard to guess because there is no standard of comparison to judge them against. We'll deal with relative size tomorrow.

Both birds have relatively small heads compared to the size of their bodies. The top bird seems to have a more elongated body, the bottom bird has a thicker body and deeper chest.

The top bird does have a bill about the length of its head. The bottom bird has a bill that is considerably longer than the length of its head.

It is actually hard to see the wings of these birds because the wings are closed and covered mostly by the scapulars. In the top bird, the darker ends of the closed and folded primary wing feathers are visible above the tail. The second bird's closed primary feathers are barely visible at the very tip of the tail; they are mostly hidden by the tertials, including one tertial that is rufous and black, a sign this bird is beginning to molt into its breeding plumage.

The top bird is a Red Knot; the bottom bird is a Short-billed Dowitcher.

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