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Friday, March 2, 2012

Leasts and Westerns

Least Sandpipers (Calidris minutilla) and Western Sandpipers (Calidris mauri) are common winter residents of the Bodega Head peninsula, feeding on the tidal flats in the harbor at low tide and sometimes roosting on Salmon Creek Beach at high tide (where these photos were taken).  Both species breed on the tundra during the early summer.

Study the Least Sandpipers in the first three photographs, then find the Western Sandpipers in the fourth photograph. 

The Western Sandpipers have grayer backs and black legs (rather than the browner backs and yellow legs of the Least Sandpipers).  The Westerns are also slightly larger and have longer bills.  

There are at least four Western Sandpipers in the center of the image (two with bills pointing left, one with bill pointing slightly right, the other sitting with its bill tucked under its feathers).

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