It seems that in this age of hyper-connectivity, false information travels more easily than true. Whereas the good-news story of a Baird's Sandpiper at Nickerson Beach, Nassau County, Long Island, propagated quickly and decisively, the uncomfortable awareness that the bird in question was actually a Sanderling is spreading too slowly.
Conflicting descriptions aside, photos in the various checklists show an adult Calidris sandpiper with a robust bill, boldly patterned back feathers with extensive rufous color in the interior of each feather, warm color on the face and bib, and boldly pale-edged coverts and tertials. All of these are characteristic of Sanderlings, which furthermore also have long wings that extend beyond the tertials when folded. Note that this is early July and that juveniles of Arctic-breeding shorebirds will not reach us for several weeks. Thus, a Baird's Sandpiper at this date would be an adult (very rare), not a scaly-backed juvenile. Lone shorebirds are difficult to identify, and the grassy habitat chosen by this individual was admittedly atypical for a Sanderling, so an error is understandable. But it has been two days, so I would have thought that the gears of the social media mill would have mulled this grist by now. Distinguishing rare birds requires thorough familiarity with the common species. An identification article in the most recent Birding magazine emphasizes this point but unfortunately features a photo that confuses two of the most common species (yes, one is Sanderling)! I've pointed this out to about a dozen active birders, none of whom was aware of the gaffe. Is it only good news that goes viral nowadays? Shai Mitra Bay Shore -- NYSbirds-L List Info: http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsWELCOME.htm http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsRULES.htm http://www.NortheastBirding.com/NYSbirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm ARCHIVES: 1) http://email@example.com/maillist.html 2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/NYSBirds-L 3) http://birding.aba.org/maillist/NY01 Please submit your observations to eBird: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/ --