Thursday, September 8, 2011

'Tis the Season of Migration

And my favorite bird to observe is the Whimbrel.  I feel honored to be in such a place as this, where I can sit at my sewing machine with the sliding glass door open and hear them pass over to the point near my house where they feed.

They feed in flocks and do not allow you to get very close.  However, here are a few pictures from a distance and zoomed in.  Here is the sentinel, poised atop a bluff while the rest of the flock feeds below, just out of sight.

And one in flight -  just enough of a view to see that
remarkable curved bill, evidence that they are
a member of the curlew species.
Whimbrels eat berries during migration
and come to rest along the crowberry barrens
of the Atlantic Maritimes. 
Berries are pulled off a branch with the tips of the bill.
The bird then flips its head back and swallows. 

They breed among the tundra in the arctic
where they feed on small crustaceans. 
Their long, curved bill is perfect for probing in the mud.

Crowberry (Empetrum nigrum)
The botanical name, Empetrum, is derived
from the Greek EN (upon) and PETROS (rock).
Nigrum means black.

Although I do not believe the Whimbrel is listed
as a species of concern any longer,
the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan
places this species in the category of shorebirds
that have shown to be in significant decline. 
The Hudson bay population has declined
from an estimated 42,500 in 1973 to only 17,000 in 2007.

For a short, and fascinating read about one migrating whimbrel,
check out this recent post on 10,000 Birds.
If you'd like to read a little more about it,


Bob Bushell said...

Isn't it beautiful to see a Whimbril. I saw a flock in Scotland back in April, a lifer of mine.

Denise said...

What a lovely bird and I found this so interesting to learn about them, thank you.

Stephanie said...

What an impressive wing space and bill. I think migration in animals of all kinds is quite fascinating.

TexWisGirl said...

very pretty and graceful-looking bird. :)

Simone de Klerk said...

What a wonderful sound the whimbrel makes! Thank you for all those links! I will make time to look closer at them!

Frank said...

Hi Karen. You are so fortunate to have this species so close at hand. Love listening to their distinctive call and was delighted when I saw a single bird last Friday but not close enough for athe lens.

Just Ramblin' said...

How wonderful you can enjoy sewing and bird watching at the same time. I am impressed by the sentinel bird. Do they always have one that keeps watch (so to speak) while the others feed? Very interesting. Nola

Lois Evensen said...

What a wonderful place to be able to sew and watch the birds at he same time. :) Marvelous.

Carrie P. said...

So neat that you get to see the bird. I had to go hear his voice. The picture might be deceiving but he looks like he has a pretty good wing span. A sleek bird.
Neat plant he eats from too.

the cuby poet said...

Fancy sewing and listening to this beautiful bird all at the same time. Brilliant.

A Spoonful Of Sugar said...

Love how you see the wonder and awe in the your environment. Such a magnificent creature.

John said...

Hi Karen,

Lovely post. I just love watching Whimbrels during the Spring and Summer, cannot wait for their arrival and sad at their departure in the Autumn. You are very lucky to be able to watch and listen to them from your window. Have you ever managed to collect any Whimbrel feathers that may get left behind after they have been preening..I have started to collect feathers on my travels to try and I.D. them. John

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

I learned something brand new here today, I'd never hard of a Whimbrel. I need to brush up on these things for my upcoming travels~ thanks so much! :)

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

*ahem* should have read: "heard", not "hard". Sorry.

O'faigh said...

Hello Kaholly, I enjoy reading your posts, always something to learn...hugs O'faigh