nonbreeding

November 13, 2015 - Sanderling (Calidris alba)

Requested by: @kinglets

These sandpipers breed on the Arctic tundra, migrating long distances to most of the world’s sandy beaches for the winter. They eat marine invertebrates, plucking them from wet sand uncovered by receding waves. During the summer they also eat flying insects and will eat plant material, such as shoots, grasses, algae, and moss when their invertebrate prey is not available. Pairs defend a nesting territory together and both incubate the eggs, though females probably select the nest sites and build the nests. Though usually monogamous, some females may breed with several males during a season. Nonbreeding birds usually stay on their wintering grounds for the whole year, avoiding the 1,800 to 6,000 mile (2,896-9,656 km) trip to the Arctic.

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♀ Long-tailed Duck @ Queens Quay, Toronto (February, sunny with wind chills of -21°C).

Unlike other waterfowl, the Long-tailed Duck wears its “breeding” or Alternate Plumage only in the winter. It gets its “nonbreeding” or Basic Plumage in the spring and wears it for the breeding season. Most other ducks wear the non-breeding plumage only for a short period in the late summer.