Date: 11/9/17 2:10 pm
From: Wayne Hoffman <whoffman...>
Subject: [obol] Re: An appreciation of Rock Sandpiper, their subspecies, and looking for bands
The winter microhabitats of Rock and Purple Sandpipers (and Surfbirds and Black Turnstones) remains pretty much ice free because is is bathed daily by seawater that is a bit too warm to freeze.  This allows their prey (intertidal invertebrates) to remain available all winter without the interruptions in availability that are so problematic for other shorebirds.

A few years ago, when western Oregon got a pretty good snowfall right out to the coast, the first morning the Newport beaches had thousands of Killdeer - weather refugees presumably from the Willamette Valley.  As soon as our snow began to melt they moved off the beaches onto lawns, roadsides, etc., more preferred habitat.  I doubt the snow bothered Rock Sandpipers much at all.

On 11/9/2017 1:42:16 PM, Lars Per Norgren <larspernorgren...> wrote:
The sibling species, Purple Sandpiper, winters north to Finnmark, where there
is round the clock darkness for several months. The approaches of the Barent's
Sea remain ice free and evidently the tides assure an ice free foraging zone,. Lars

On Nov 9, 2017, at 9:59 AM, Bob Archer wrote:


There are 4 subspecies of Rock Sandpiper.  Reading about these tough little birds it seems the more northern breeding C. p. tschuktschorum, which breeds up on those two peninsulas where Russia almost touches Alaska, tends to leap frog its southern breeding cousins (that breed on islands in the Bering Sea or the third  down on the Alaskan Peninsula) when migrating south.  The fourth subspecies breeds on Russian islands.  I could not find anyway to safely separate the subspecies out other than size, paleness and wing stripe width, all of  which are variable and tough to see.  I did see that Alaska F&W bands the subspecies in the Bering Sea  (C. p. ptilocnemis).  I have looked at all ebird photos, see no bands yet, but might be fun to keep your eyes open.

The migration still keeps birds well north of most other shorebirds. How these tough little things survive the northern winter is part of Alaska F&W research efforts.

Cool birds.

No one knows of any other info as to subspecies separation?

Bob Archer

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