Sanderling4This week sanderlings showed up on my local beach en masse — nearly a thousand little pinball birds, along with marbled godwits, whimbrels, and a variety of gulls. All were feeding on sand crabs in the wash of very big surf (which we’re expecting all week).

Sanderling2I love watching sanderlings moving in unison as waves recede, then turning and running quickly in unison chased by waves washing up the beach. Between ebb and flow they mill around in disarray, or are shooed away by the other birds. Their energetic behaviors are comical and their tenacity remarkable. All this activity for a bite of sand crab.

The most amazing thing about these little birds is that they’re here from the Arctic and are heading to the south end of South America. That’s an incredible migratory trip for any species, but I find it astounding for an 8 inch, 3 ounce (20 cm, 100 g) bird. Whenever they visit here, I’m enthralled.


5 Comments on “Sanderlings

  1. Marvelous catch… yours, with the sand crab in the beak and the Sanderling’s catch as well! 😉

    These little ‘peeps’ on the beach are also difficult to identify. A few years ago I happened across bunches of them up in the driftwood piles. There seemed to be two different types -they are as hard to distinguish as the gulls. My ‘catch’ was back on 8/31/13, but I might post them for some help in identifying? Not to mention the varied color changes with age and season.


      • Thanks for the ID… just about to go over and approve your comment and thank you there, too! This was the first time I had a good chance to catch these little peeps. They didn’t seem to be at all bothered by me.



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