A Beginner’s Guide to Wader Identification. Part 4

Lesser Sand Plover_T Tokong_081008_IMG_7568Good Behaviour!

Wader behaviour can provide some good ‘short cuts’ to identification, yet it’s something which is invisible in a field guide illustration and photos, and therefore often goes ignored or unnoticed.

Check out this wonderful video by Tara Tanaka of three North American wader/shorebird genera. The species won’t be familiar, but the groups are the same. I haven’t covered snipes yet, as they are not commonly seen in tidal habitats. Killdeer is a Charadrius plover (Group 4) and Greater Yellowlegs is a Tringa sandpiper (Group 3).

Look at the very different ways these three birds feed. How would you describe each one? What do you think they’re feeding on (and where is their prey – in the water? in the mud? on the surface? below the surface? etc)? How do you think they are locating their prey (by sight, hearing, touch, etc)? Is their prey mobile or more or less stationary?

Learning the typical feeding behaviour of each group can enable you to quickly tell different groups apart. It can even be useful in identification of similar pairs of species in the same group.

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