What are shorebirds?
Shorebirds, or waders, are not simply birds found at the shore, but are the families of plovers, sandpipers and related forms that are part of the order Charadriiformes. Most of these birds can be found along shorelines, especially in migration, but they are also found inland, upland, on arctic tundra or at sea. They are related to gulls, terns and auks, also Charadriiformes.
One of the many attractions of shorebirds is the long-distance migration of species such as American Golden-Plover (Pluvialis dominica) between the high arctic and southern South America. Equally evocative are the calls of curlews and godwits, often unseen phantoms of the air.
When one gains experience in watching shorebirds, another appeal is the challenge often present in their identification and the excitement of finding the rare wanderer. Shorebirds vary from the boldly patterned like avocets and stilts to the subtlety of small Calidrid sandpipers (peeps or stints) with plumage variation by season and age. Identification has become an intense study and there are now many books able to assist those drawn to the challenge. Newer field guides will assist, but the most standard work today is Shorebirds of the World, by Hayman, Marchant and Prater (1986) which is a comprehensive study with detailed plates of illustrations and species descriptions. I find a valuable companion is Shorebirds of the Pacific Northwest, by Paulson (1993) which has excellent photos of the species in different plumages and a good introduction, including drawings of feather markings, wing and tail details and silhouettes. The species are not world-wide, but even across the continent in Ohio, I find it very helpful and the photos a good companion to the illustrations in other books.
|Because shorebirds can be handsome creatures and because they provide indentification challenges, we have been accumulating photo links on the web at the International Shorebird Gallery.|
Shorebirds are appealing also because the shore is a natural attraction to us. This habitat in its many variations is often threatened, and so shorebird watching is closely related to wetland conservation. In our links below are organizations and programs that are involved specifically with shorebirds or their habitat. Shorebird watchers around the world provide much of the data and time needed to learn the needs of these birds and assist in their protection.
For more references, see our Shorebird Bibliography.
For a world checklist of shorebird species, see Robert B. Hole, Jr.'s Birds of the World on the Web Project.
Shorebird News and Links
Please help track the spring migration
of red knots.
Report spring migrant Red Knots
Recent data from Delaware Bay and Tierra del Fuego suggest that in 2003 red knots, and possibly ruddy turnstones, altered their typical migration pattern. Because of the nearly-complete failure of horseshoe crab spawning in May 2003, a large proportion of red knots did not stop on the Delaware Bay or stayed for a shorter period. If this trend continues in 2004, we would expect to see knots at other stopover sites, particularly in mid-Atlantic, New England states. However, because we have not observed this phenomenon in the recent past, we are requesting assistance from observers along the entire east coast of the US and James Bay, Canada
Observers can assist our efforts by reporting any and all red knot sightings, particularly during May and early June. Estimates of flock size and composition are appreciated as well as color-band combinations from marked red knots. Please also provide a detailed description of the sighting location. Please note that in 2003 we began using a lime green flag with engraved alpha-numeric characters (2 characters for 2003, 3 characters for 2004).
They sincerely appreciate your assistance.
update on 24 Apr 2004
Our view on the latest publication:
Shorebirds by Des Thompson and Ingvar Byrkjedal. Voyager Press, Inc., 10 Oct 2001, 72 pgs., $16.95US
This slender book, the latest in Voyager Press' WoldLife Library series, provides a concise introduction to this remarkable group of birds from the authors of the outstanding Tundra Plovers. Though classified as "juvenile", the information it contains is relevant to anyone interested in shorebirds. Beginning with a description of shorebird taxonomy based on the latest DNA findings of Charles Sibley and Jon Ahlquist, the book then describes what shorebirds look like, relates their incredible migration schemes, discusses breeding and social behavior, feeding habits and conservation concerns. The largely non-technical text is easy to read and the 50 excellent color plates are well placed to illustrate points in the text. A full list of all shorebirds of the world and a list of extinct or endangered species is included. We especially recommend this book to the novice shorebirder.
Report Banded Golden and Black-bellied Plovers
Researchers Dr. Wally Johnson, Phillip Bruner and Robert Gill have banded Pacific and American Golden-Plovers (Pluvialis fulva and P. dominica) and Black-bellied Plovers (P. squatarola) in the Pacific and in Alaska. Please report any observations of these banded plovers to them.
update on 2 Aug 2000
THE VIRTUAL BIRDER (R)
Includes the full shorebird quiz.
new on 28 Jul 2000
Report of Banded Bar-tailed Godwits in Alaska
Bob Gill and Brian McCaffery report birds banded in Australia and New Zealand
update on Sep 17, 1999
All new . . . don't miss "The Shorebird Watcher" Shorebird Photo Quiz!
Photos from Australia (Tom & Marie Tarrant) and North America (Costa Rica to Barrow, Alaska from Dick & Jean Hoffman).
(or the non-interactive version)
update on August 27, 1997
Often overlooked, the voices of shorebirds are varied, sometimes the best
way to separate similar species or even the only way to know of the presence of migrating birds.
There are growing resources on the web and information about other recordings.
update on August 6, 1997
|General SHOREBIRD links|
WHSRN MENU: Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, a program of Manomet Observatory for Conservation Sciences in partnership with Wetlands International - the Americas
Shiokawa Tidalflat Home Page The Shiokawa tidalflat is one of the representative wader-watching sites in JAPAN. Land area is about 280ha and it is surrounded by wet fields (rice), dry fields (cabbage), pond (unused fishing pond), marsh (unused industrial area). Various habitats support many kinds of birds. Includes maps and data of shorebird migration in the western Pacific
|SHOREBIRD links by Species|
|Crab Plover||Black Stilt||Bush Thick-knee||Beach Thick-knee|
|Northern Lapwing||Pacific Golden-Plover||American Golden-Plover||Black-bellied (Gray) Plover|
|Kentish (Snowy) Plover||Piping Plover||Mountain Plover||Hooded Plover|
|Shore Plover||Eskimo Curlew||Bristle-thighed Curlew||Far Eastern Curlew|
|Wilson's Phalarope||Red Phalarope||Western Sandpiper||Dunlin|
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Changes last made on: 27 Nov 2002
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