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,