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Wednesday, May 6, 2015


Just a few quick photos of Surfbirds (Calidris virgata, formerly Aphriza virgata), feeding on the beach near Pinnacle Gulch.

Although Surfbirds are well known for feeding among rocks, they're less often seen foraging in soft sediments.

Eight birds were probing actively in the sand, feeding on small mole crabs (Emerita analoga).  Carolyn Connors documented this behavior in Bodega Bay in the 1970s.  It has also been observed in southern Chile.

The Surfbirds sometimes had their entire bills buried in the sand (see below)!

After feeding on mussels among the rocks, and then adding crabs from the beach, it's as if the Surfbirds were partaking in a bit of bouillabaisse!


John W. Wall said...

I recently saw black turnstones doing the same thing at Point Reyes.

leafcutter said...

Saw same behavior in Humboldt county recently. I wonder if it is tied to their migration soon?