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Need ID help with a Calidris Sandpiper


Jerry Ting
 

On Sunday (07/26) morning, I found an interesting calidris sandpiper feeding in sludge next to the red float rope near the pump station on No Name Trail in Coyote Hills. I am struggling with the ID and can really use some help. Here is the description of the bird:
Bill shape and length resemble female Semipalmated Sandpiper but slightly decurved, dark lore, dark ear coverts, rufous crown and scapulars, buffy and slightly streaked breast, no speckles/streaks on flanks, dull/plain brown grayish coverts and tertials, dark gray greenish legs. It's about the same size as the Least Sandpiper next to it.

My tentative ID is juvenile male Western Sandpiper but the dark greenish legs really puzzle me. Mark Rauzon re-found the bird in the afternoon and email me a shot with better light on the legs and they are indeed gray greenish and not black.

Some photos (including the one taken by Mark) can be seen in my eBird report: https://ebird.org/checklist/S71848271

Any comments/suggestions will be much appreciated.

Stay Safe and Happy Birding,
Jerry Ting
Fremont


Fred Werner
 

Hi Jerry.  Why don't you think it's a juvenile Least Sandpiper?  Your photos (and description) seem to match the photo featured on eBird, which is also here: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Least_Sandpiper/media-browser/64822671

- Fred Werner


On Tue, Jul 28, 2020 at 10:15 PM Jerry Ting via groups.io <jtnikon=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:
On Sunday (07/26) morning, I found an interesting calidris sandpiper feeding in sludge next to the red float rope near the pump station on No Name Trail in Coyote Hills.  I am struggling with the ID and can really use some help.  Here is the description of the bird:
Bill shape and length resemble female Semipalmated Sandpiper but slightly decurved, dark lore, dark ear coverts, rufous crown and scapulars, buffy and slightly streaked breast, no speckles/streaks on flanks, dull/plain brown grayish coverts and tertials, dark gray greenish legs.  It's about the same size as the Least Sandpiper next to it.

My tentative ID is juvenile male Western Sandpiper but the dark greenish legs really puzzle me.  Mark Rauzon re-found the bird in the afternoon and email me a shot with better light on the legs and they are indeed gray greenish and not black.

Some photos (including the one taken by Mark) can be seen in my eBird report: https://ebird.org/checklist/S71848271

Any comments/suggestions will be much appreciated.

Stay Safe and Happy Birding,
Jerry Ting
Fremont



Jerry Ting
 

It's a unanimous opinion that this is a juvenile Least Sandpiper. Many thanks to Alvaro, Joachim, Fred, Joe, and Dominik for commenting on it.

Though I accept the fact that I should concentrate more on the structure of this sandpiper that will help me to identify it correctly, I am still bothered by its plumage.
It's just late July now so shouldn't a juvenile Least Sandpiper (which should be among the earliest arrivals) possess a much brighter plumage than the bird I photographed? I compared all juvenile Least Sandpiper photos I took for the past 10 years and also browsed through images of juvenile Least Sandpiper in eBird Macaulay Library (using the filter juvenile/immature during July and August for all years) and notice they all have much brighter overall color with wider tawny edges and darker-centered feathers on lesser and median coverts.
The sandpiper that I photographed has grayish lesser and median coverts and almost no dark on the center of feathers.

Then I used the same filters (juvenile/immature during July) to search for Western Sandpiper in Macaulay Library and found these: https://ebird.org/media/catalog?bmo=7&;taxonCode=wessan&mr=MCUSTOM&emo=7&q=Western%20Sandpiper%20-%20Calidris%20mauri&age=j
Much better match of the plumage with the sandpiper I photographed in my opinion and structure-wise is also quite similar.

I have even thought about the possibility of hybridization but couldn't find any documentation online about Least/Western or Least/Semipalmated Sandpiper Hybrid. By the way, Google 'calidris hybrid' and you will find some cool articles.

I will settle this bird as a juvenile Least Sandpiper as suggested for now and keep looking for the interesting ones to raise my, and hopefully yours too, curiosity.

Stay Safe and Happy Birding,
Jerry Ting
Fremont


Alvaro Jaramillo
 

Jerry
Juvenile peeps are super variable in how bright they are. This is independent of wear, same day, same place and you photograph let's say 20 Least juveniles and you will find a ton of variation. Same goes for Western etc.

Alvaro Jaramillo
alvaro@alvarosadventures.com
www.alvarosadventures.com

-----Original Message-----
From: EBB-Sightings@groups.io <EBB-Sightings@groups.io> On Behalf Of Jerry Ting via groups.io
Sent: Wednesday, July 29, 2020 10:10 AM
To: EBB-Sightings@groups.io
Subject: Re: [EBB-Sightings] Need ID help with a Calidris Sandpiper

It's a unanimous opinion that this is a juvenile Least Sandpiper. Many thanks to Alvaro, Joachim, Fred, Joe, and Dominik for commenting on it.

Though I accept the fact that I should concentrate more on the structure of this sandpiper that will help me to identify it correctly, I am still bothered by its plumage.
It's just late July now so shouldn't a juvenile Least Sandpiper (which should be among the earliest arrivals) possess a much brighter plumage than the bird I photographed? I compared all juvenile Least Sandpiper photos I took for the past 10 years and also browsed through images of juvenile Least Sandpiper in eBird Macaulay Library (using the filter juvenile/immature during July and August for all years) and notice they all have much brighter overall color with wider tawny edges and darker-centered feathers on lesser and median coverts.
The sandpiper that I photographed has grayish lesser and median coverts and almost no dark on the center of feathers.

Then I used the same filters (juvenile/immature during July) to search for Western Sandpiper in Macaulay Library and found these: https://ebird.org/media/catalog?bmo=7&;taxonCode=wessan&mr=MCUSTOM&emo=7&q=Western%20Sandpiper%20-%20Calidris%20mauri&age=j
Much better match of the plumage with the sandpiper I photographed in my opinion and structure-wise is also quite similar.

I have even thought about the possibility of hybridization but couldn't find any documentation online about Least/Western or Least/Semipalmated Sandpiper Hybrid. By the way, Google 'calidris hybrid' and you will find some cool articles.

I will settle this bird as a juvenile Least Sandpiper as suggested for now and keep looking for the interesting ones to raise my, and hopefully yours too, curiosity.

Stay Safe and Happy Birding,
Jerry Ting
Fremont