Birder’s Notebook

BREEDING PLUMAGE – A western sandpiper in breeding plumage wades in the shallows while feeding. The western sandpiper is the most common small shorebird in the Bering Strait region. It is distinguished from its similar but plainer-looking cousin, the semipalmated sandpiper, by: a longer, stouter, slightly downturned bill; smartly speckled breast and flanks; reddish mottling on its back; and a rusty cap.
Western sandpipers are the most common shorebird on the Seward Peninsula and one of the most abundant shorebirds in the western hemisphere. Perhaps because they are so common, these little waders are...
GREATER SCAUP PAIR – A male greater scaup follows his mate across their nesting pond early in the breeding season. The male has a dark, rounded head that shows an iridescent green sheen in good light. Lesser scaup, that occur here only infrequently, have a slight peak at the back of the head and the male’s head has a purplish iridescence. These features can only be seen up close and the birds are indistinguishable at a distance.
The greater scaup is a handsome, solidly-built diving duck that breeds across the circumpolar north. They are a familiar sight in this region, since greater scaup are one of the more common and...
FEMALE BLACKPOLL WARBLER – A female blackpoll warbler is foraging for insects in an alder thicket. Blackpolls move methodically through the foliage eating insects that they pick off leaves and branches of shrubs and trees. They are less apt to flit into the air to catch flying insects than are some other warblers. The female blackpoll does all the incubating and brooding of the chicks. Her more subdued coloration camouflages her on the nest.
A recent Birder’s Notebook article featured the astonishing 11-day migration of bar-tailed godwit “B6,” and the Nome-based research project that documented the longest known nonstop migration in the...

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