New: Surfbird

I saw a new-to-me bird mixed in with the Black Turnstones. In its behavior it seemed like just another member of the Turnstone flock, rubbing feathers with the other birds and feeding in the same energetic manner. But it was a tad bigger, had a stubbier, stouter bill, a patterned head, stripes of rust on the wings, heavy angular spots on its breast, and bright yellow legs. I had to look it up at home. No doubt about it: Surfbird, Calidris virgata. Historically, this bird has been seen in the company of Black Turnstones so frequently that early naturalists classified it as a member of the Turnstone family. Like the Turnstones, it’s rarely found more than a few meters from the water’s edge, and it also breeds high up in Alaska and the Yukon — so high, in fact, that researchers have been unable to learn much about its courtship, breeding, and other reproductive practices.

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