Solo Piper

(Burrowing Owl Update Below)

Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)

I first saw this bird from a distance. It stood on a slanting stone at the water’s edge on the west side of the park and vigorously dipped its body into the softly lapping waves, taking a bath. Then I managed to get closer with the sun behind me, and took this video of the bird fluffing and drying out. It hardly held still for one second. The Spotted Sandpiper is famous for its constant dipping or teetering motion. Why does it do that? “Function of teetering has not been determined,” according to Birds of the World, the authoritative online subscription reference published by the Cornell Bird Lab.

It’s also famous for its sex role reversal. Females are bigger than males, arrive in breeding rounds earlier, and usually mate with two or even more males, laying a clutch of eggs for each one. The males play the main role, sometimes the only role, in incubating the eggs and tending to the chicks.

None of that is happening here. Breeding season is over, and this bird looks to be solo. They develop spots only during breeding season. Once or twice I’ve seen these sandpipers here in breeding plumage. See “Spots on Piper,” May 23 2018. But not in November.

More about them: Audubon Wikipedia Cornell Previously on

Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius) showing tongue

Burrowing Owl Update

After its Thanksgiving Day absence, the Burrowing Owl returned to the park and occupied its Perch B, meaning the spot just below the big Fennel bush where park visitors can see at least its head from the paved pathway. And park visitors out for a post-holiday walk formed small throngs to see the charismatic bird. We were clearly not the first human cluster that the owl had seen. It held its position placidly, looking at us from time to time without signs of alarm, and looking away again at other points of no urgent interest.

Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) Nov. 25 2022

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