Solitary Sandpiper - Tringa solitaria
The solitary sandpiper is a medium-sized shorebird 9 inches in length with a 15-17 inch wingspan. It has a pointed bill, long greenish legs, a medium-sized neck, an olive-green back, and wings marked with white spots. It has a barred tail, a gray streaked head, and white circles around its eyes. Males and females look alike, but females are a little larger.
The solitary sandpiper breeds
across Alaska and Canada. It migrates along the Atlantic Coast and the interior of the United States. It winters from southern Texas south to the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.
The solitary sandpiper is truly solitary - it migrates alone, not in flocks.
The solitary sandpiper breeds on the tundra and the taiga, especially in areas with spruce trees. During migration, it is found on the banks of wooded streams and ponds, on the of shores of lakes, on mudflats, and in marshes. In the winter, it is found along river banks and in swamps.
The solitary sandpiper forages in shallow water and skims food up from the surface of the water. It eats insects, larvae, small fish, tadpoles, frogs, spiders, and worms. It often shakes its foot to stir prey up to the surface of the water. Occasionally, it probes in the water for food, and it also forages for food on land.
The male selects the nesting site. He chooses an abandoned nest of songbirds like American robins, rusty blackbirds, eastern kingbirds, gray jays or cedar waxwings. The nest is usually in a conifer tree, sometimes as high as 40 feet above the ground. The female may rearrange the nest after the male selects it. She lays 3-5 eggs. Both parents incubate the eggs for 23-24 days. The chicks are precocial and leap from the nest shortly after hatching.
The solitary sandpiper and the green sandpiper of Eurasia are the only species of sandpipers that nest in trees!
Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Juan Mazar Barnett