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Photo Gallery

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| Shorebirds | Habitat | Techniques |

Shorebirds

Surfbird in the snow in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve Black-bellied Plover nest with eggs in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge - photo by Dan Rizzolo, USGS
A Surfbird protects its eggs from hail, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska.  This sort of extreme weather is common at high elevation sites across Alaska during summertime. A Black-bellied Plover nest, situated in a bed of dry lichen and moss, Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.  Shorebird species typically lay four eggs.
Rock Sandpiper on it's nest in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge - photo by J Conklin Freshly hatched Ruddy Turnstone chick in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge - photo by Dan Rizzolo, USGS
A Rock Sandpiper incubates its nest, Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.  Rock Sandpiper nests typically hatch after twenty-one days of incubation, and chicks attain flight approximately eighteen days thereafter. Photo by J. Conklin. A freshly-hatched Ruddy Turnstone chick, Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.  Downy chicks leave the nest hours after hatching and rely on parental protection and camouflage to avoid predators like arctic fox, mink, and gulls.
Rock Sandpipers dropping in from the air along the shores of the Bering Sea.  Photo by Dan Ruthrauff, USGS Black Turnstone removes an eggshell from it's nest. Photo by Robert E. Gill, USGS
Rock Sandpipers drop from the air and into a roost along the shores of the Bering Sea, Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.  Shorebirds form roosts as the tide rises.  Once the tide drops and foraging sites are once again exposed, the roost disperses. A Black Turnstone removes an eggshell from its nest.  Parents remove the eggshells shortly after hatch, often flying a short distance to drop the waste.
A juvenile Sharp-tailed Sandpiper - photo by Robert E. Gill, USGS Close-up of a male Rock Sandpiper head - photo by Dan Ruthrauff, USGS
A juvenile Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.  Although this species does not breed in North America, each fall thousands of juveniles pass through coastal sites in western Alaska en route to their wintering grounds in Asia. A close-up of a male Rock Sandpiper.  Once the breeding season is over, this bird will lose its rusty cap and dark auricular patch.
Recently hatched Rock Sandpiper chicks, St. Matthew Island, Alaska - photo by Jim Johnson A male Bristle-thighed Curlew sits motionless on its nest in the Andreafsky Wilderness, Alaska - photo by Robert E. Gill, USGS
Recently hatched Rock Sandpiper chicks, St. Matthew Island, Alaska.  Most shorebird chicks exit the nest quickly after hatch and begin to feed themselves, relying on parents for frequent brooding.  Their coloration allows them to blend into their tundra surroundings, escaping the detection of predators. Photo by Jim Johnson. A male Bristle-thighed Curlew sits motionless on its nest in the Andreafsky Wilderness, Alaska.  Most shorebirds nest in relatively open habitats and rely on camouflage to escape detection.
A flock of Dunlin near Egegik Bay, Alaska - photo by Dan Ruthrauff, USGS Lesser Yellowlegs perched atop a spruce - photo by Dave Ward, USGS
A flock of Dunlin wheels past at Egegik Bay, Alaska.  These small shorebirds gain protection from aerial predators by forming large flocks. Not all of Alaska’s breeding shorebirds are found on the tundra.  Alaska hosts numerous shorebird species that breed in the boreal forest, including this Lesser Yellowlegs, photographed here perched atop a spruce.

Habitat


Wetlands of the outer Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta coast, Alaska Researcher Maksim Dementyev walks the rolling tundra of St. George Island, Bering Sea, Alaska
Wetlands of the outer Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta coast, Alaska.  This region provides crucial breeding habitat for millions of birds each year. Researcher Maksim Dementyev walks the rolling tundra of St. George Island, Bering Sea, Alaska.  Remote Bering Sea islands are home to the ptilocnemis subspecies of Rock Sandpiper.
Low-bush cranberries (also known as lingonberries), Vaccinium vitis-idaea, are a favorite food of many shorebird species A mixed flock of shorebirds accompanies a researcher on mudflats of the Kuskokwim River delta, Alaska
Low-bush cranberries (also known as lingonberries), Vaccinium vitis-idaea, are a favorite food of many shorebird species. A mixed flock of shorebirds accompanies a researcher on mudflats of the Kuskokwim River delta, Alaska.  Hundreds of thousands of shorebirds rely upon Alaska’s intertidal habitats each year. Photo by Jan van de Kam.
Researcher David Ward searches for montane breeding shorebirds at a site above Lake Grosvenor, Katmai National Park and Preserve Researcher Maksim Dementyev searches for montane-nesting shorebirds at a site overlooking Battle Lake, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Researcher David Ward searches for montane breeding shorebirds at a site above Lake Grosvenor, Katmai National Park and Preserve, May, 2005. Researcher Maksim Dementyev searches for montane-nesting shorebirds at a site overlooking Battle Lake, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska.  High elevation sites throughout Alaska are home to a little-studied group of shorebirds that includes Surfbirds, Wandering Tattlers, and Baird’s Sandpipers.
Typical dwarf shrub breeding habitat of Bristle-thighed Curlews in the Andreafsky Wilderness, Alaska A Bristle-thighed Curlew, lounging in a cocoanut tree on Rangiroa Atoll
Typical dwarf shrub breeding habitat of Bristle-thighed Curlews in the Andreafsky Wilderness, Alaska.  This habitat is characterized by low shrubs, sedges, lichens, and mosses. A Bristle-thighed Curlew, lounging in a cocoanut tree on Rangiroa Atoll.  This species spends the non-breeding season on small islands and atolls throughout the south Pacific.
Typical breeding habitat of Long-billed Curlews in the Ruby Valley region, Nevada Researchers search for Long-billed Curlews outside Boardman, Oregon
Typical breeding habitat of Long-billed Curlews in the Ruby Valley region, Nevada.  These mountainous sites are in contrast to flat, dry scrub habitats utilized in other parts of the species’ range. Researchers search for Long-billed Curlews outside Boardman, Oregon.  Birds arrive at these arid scrubland sites to breed each April.
Rock Sandpipers are common winter residents in upper Cook Inlet, Alaska  
Rock Sandpipers are common winter residents in upper Cook Inlet, Alaska.  Limited daylight, freezing temperatures, and extensive ice cover characterize Cook Inlet in the winter.  

Techniques


Researcher Bob Gill removes a Dunlin from a mist net A juvenile Dunlin captured in a mist net, Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska
Researcher Bob Gill removes a Dunlin from a mist net.  Birds fly into the nearly invisible netting and tangle themselves in the fine mesh. A juvenile Dunlin captured in a mist net, Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska.  Mist nets are effective ways to harmlessly capture birds.
A Bristle-thighed Curlew is captured in a net Researcher Lee Tibbitts and wildlife veterinarian Dr. Dan Mulcahy surgically implant a satellite transmitter into a Bristle-thighed Curlew, Seward Peninsula, Alaska
A Bristle-thighed Curlew is captured in a net.  The birds are lured close to the net by a taped playback of a chick distress call, and then swept up in the net as they pass. Researcher Lee Tibbitts and wildlife veterinarian Dr. Dan Mulcahy surgically implant a satellite transmitter into a Bristle-thighed Curlew, Seward Peninsula, Alaska.  The technique, perfected over thousands of efforts on numerous species, takes less than a half-hour and the bird is typically released back to the wild within three hours of capture.
A Bar-tailed Godwit with a solar-powered satellite transmitter unit Researcher Bob Gill takes measurements on male Bristle-thighed Curlew 'D9'
A Bar-tailed Godwit with a solar-powered satellite transmitter unit.  The unit is attached with small straps around the legs and over the back. Researcher Bob Gill takes measurements on male Bristle-thighed Curlew 'D9'.  Differences in bill morphology is one of the best ways to differentiate between male and female curlews; female bills tend to be thicker and less decurved.
Researcher Hilger Lemke scans a mudflat dotted with Dunlin and Rock Sandpipers, Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge Bar-tailed Godwits, as viewed through a spotting scope
Researcher Hilger Lemke scans a mudflat dotted with Dunlin and Rock Sandpipers, Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.  We use spotting scopes to read country-specific leg bands. Bar-tailed Godwits, as viewed through a spotting scope.  We count the number of juvenile birds within flocks, which serves as a rough measure of productivity.
Researcher Matt Sexson removes a Dunlin from an Ottenby trap Researcher Phil Battley weighs a Bar-tailed Godwit captured on the non-breeding grounds in New Zealand
Researcher Matt Sexson removes a Dunlin from an Ottenby trap.  Named after the site in Sweden where they were developed, these harmless traps act as a shorebird maze: once inside, the birds have trouble finding their way back out. Researcher Phil Battley weighs a Bar-tailed Godwit captured on the non-breeding grounds in New Zealand.  Monitoring seasonal changes in mass helps us better understand the ways in which shorebirds manage different energetic demands throughout their annual cycle. Photo by Brent Stephenson.
A researcher measures the bill of a freshly color-banded Dunlin, Egegik, Alaska Researcher Dan Ruthrauff samples a juvenile Sharp-tailed Sandpiper for avian influenza
A researcher measures the bill of a freshly color-banded Dunlin, Egegik, Alaska.  By recording body measurements, researchers are often able to classify birds by gender, subspecies, or age. Photo by Jan van de Kam. Researcher Dan Ruthrauff samples a juvenile Sharp-tailed Sandpiper for avian influenza.  Because many birds in Alaska also utilize sites in Asia, researchers collect samples throughout Alaska to monitor for possible ‘bird flu’ transmission.
Researcher Jesse Conklin prepares to remove Dunlin captured in a pull net along the banks of the Tutakoke River, Alaska  
Researcher Jesse Conklin prepares to remove Dunlin captured in a pull net along the banks of the Tutakoke River, Alaska.  The net is launched up and over roosting birds by trigger-activated bungee cords, and is an effective method for harmlessly capturing many shorebirds at one time.  

 

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