Long-billed Curlew

I’ve seen this Long-billed Curlew, or another like it, several times this winter, always in the mudflats around the Schoolhouse Creek outfall in the southeast corner of the North Basin.  It obviously has an advantage over all the other mudpeckers when it comes to going deep, even over the Marbled Godwits, which are well endowed in the beak department.  What baffles me is how they know where to peck for something edible that may be lurking three or four inches below the surface.  The Sandpipers seem to operate by the random method, just peck at everything and by the law of averages you’ll come up with something.  The Godwits also do so much pecking so fast that they can’t be aiming at anything in particular.  But the Curlew evidently has some kind of mud radar (mudar?) that lets it walk at a rapid clip and then suddenly pounce.  In this video you can see it actually coming up with some tidbit, which it takes to the water, where it disappears.  Down the bird’s hatch?  Abandoned?  Mysterious are the ways of birds.

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