Since most NA field guides only give a short blip about the Sharp-tailed
Sandpiper being a vagrant to the US mostly found on the Pacific coast and
casual inland that is similar to the Pectoral Sandpiper, I thought I would
share a bit more information on this interesting bird.
Like many sandpiper species, the most intriguing thing about the Sharp-tailed
Sandpiper is its incredible migration. The birds "winter" (austral summer) in
Australia, New Zealand, and many South Pacific islands. They then migrate along
the east Asian coast and fly overland to get to their Arctic Siberian breeding
grounds. The adults head back south overland but a large number of juvenile
birds are theorized to stage in Alaska. These juvenile birds then fly over the
open Pacific Ocean to their "wintering" grounds. Thus, it is likely that the
individual found in Carver county was born in Siberia after its parents had
come all the way from the South Pacific. It traveled east to Alaska, got mixed
up with some Pectoral Sandpipers and headed on their southward migration,
perhaps eventually ending up in South America. Quite a journey for a bird that
was just born over the summer.
Also, showing the flexible abilities of shorebirds, the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
prefers to stay inland in Australia during the winter if there are adequate
rains. This provides energy savings by shortening their migratory journey to
the southeastern Australian coast.
The Birdlife Australia website describes the Sharp-tailed as the most dinky-di
of all shorebirds in Australia. Apparently, a well deserved compliment!
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