Date: 8/9/19 4:25 pm
From: Wayne Hoffman <whoffman...>
Subject: [obol] Re: sandpiper thoughts
Hi, Laura - Catbird Lady:

This bird has several features that resemble a Long-toed Stint, but two features of the head and face are more typical of Least Sandpiper.  

1.  Most Long-toed Stints have some yellow on the base of the lower mandible, and most Least Sandpipers do not.  This bird appears to have an all-black bill.

2.  The face pattern of Long-toed Stints typically has the white supercilium hooking down in front of the eye, and no dark line across the lores, and the dark of the crown continues forward to meet the top of the bill.  Leasts usually have the supercilia meet at the top of the bill, separating it from the crown, as well as a dark mark across the lores as in this bird.

The frustrating thing about trying to identify a Long-toed Stint is that they have several features that generally differ from Leasts, but there is some overlap in nearly every one.  The only apparent exception is voice.  As the name indicates, Long-toed Stints have longer toes.  However, there seems to be a lot of variation in Least Sandpiper toe lengths, and some birds with toes approaching LT Stint length have some of the plumage characters of Leasts. 

Long-toed Stints tend to stand more erect, and look longer-legged, but some birds. like yours combine this habitat with plumage more like Leasts.  

I get the impression that Least sandpipers vary more in plumage and body proportions than most other sandpipers.  I suspect that Long-toed Stints also vary in some of the plumage features we depend on to separate them, but currently in North America, a Long-toed Stint has to be recorded vocalizing, or to be typical in ALL the features people look for, to be conclusively identified.

I have an image stuck in my brain of a birder in, say Thailand, picking through flocks of Long-toed Stints looking for a vagrant Least, and rejecting candidate after candidate for not being quite right:  "That looks like a Least but the bill looks a little paler at the base...:  "That looks like a Least but the line across the lores is not very distinct..." etc.

In reality, I suspect that there may be as many stray Long-toeds to North America as Red-necked Stints or Little Stints, but most overlap enough in plumage with Leasts that we do not recognize them.

On 8/9/2019 6:10:58 PM, Laura Paulson <laura...> wrote:
This lone sandpiper was at Ona Beach a few days ago foraging at the mouth of Beaver Creek. It was small, Least Sandpiper-sized at a glance but it caught my eye as seeming different, more upright and long-legged. A few Westerns were in the area but not with it. Took lots of pictures and its toes struck me as especially long. Maybe I just don't look at shorebirds enough but I sure would be interested in any thoughts y'all might have. Three photos and a video are at: []


Laura Paulson
Seal Rock, Oregon

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