This Little Bird, the Semipalmated Sandpiper, is My New Super-Hero

July 14, 2014 at 1:36 PM 1 comment

Semipalmated Sandpiper Will Sweet via Wikimedia Commons

(Image Will Sweet via Wikimedia Commons)

I read this amazing, awe inspiring article the other day but am just now finding the time to put it up.  It’s one of the most incredible articles I’ve read in a long time.  It’s about a super-bird, the Semipalmated Sandpiper and after reading it I realized there is so much we don’t know about the amazing creatures who live amongst us and certainly we don’t give them the respect they deserve:

Just a few days ago, Brad Winn and Shiloh Schulte returned from Coats Island with the first two geolocators from the Semipalmated Sandpiper migration study. We were waiting breathlessly to see what mysteries would be revealed! Ron Porter, who is working on analyzing the geolocator data, downloaded and analyzed the data from the first geolocator over the weekend. He produced the map below, which reveals a remarkable odyssey for a tiny bird, the first glimpse ever into the entire migratory pathway of this species.


Analysis of the data from the geolocators is key to understanding what the tiny units have recorded during the past year. The map below shows the first ever track of an entire year in the life of a Semipalmated Sandpiper from the eastern Arctic, the group for which the decline may be particularly severe. This particular bird, a male, flew a total distance of over 10,000 miles in the past year. He also made a remarkable six day, 3,300-mile nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean from James Bay to South America, before moving on to his wintering area in Brazil.


Here are the highlights from its journey:

23 June, 2013.  The geolocator is placed on the bird by Brad Winn, a member of a Manomet shorebird science research team, at Coats Island, Nunavut, Canada.

21 July, 2013.  Arrives in James Bay, where it fattens up for its upcoming long flight to South America.

22 August, 2013.  Leaves James Bay for a six day nonstop flight to South America.

28 August, 2013.  Arrives at the Orinoco Delta, on the border of Venezuela and Guyana.

10 September, 2013.  Leaves for a relatively leisurely 11 day flight along the coast to Brazil.

21 September, 2013.  Arrives in Brazil for the winter (northern winter, but summer in Brazil).

3 May, 2014.  Leaves Brazil for a series of flights north, including stops in Cuba (May 6), Florida (May 10), Georgia (May 11), North Carolina (May 14), and Delaware Bay (May 21).

2 June, 2014.  Arrives back in James Bay for the last stopover on its return journey.

10 June, 2014.  Leaves James Bay for the final leg of its return journey.

11 June, 2014.  Arrives back at its Coats Island breeding site.

18 June, 2014.  The bird was re-captured by Brad Winn and Shiloh Schulte, its geolocator was removed, and it was released to begin its next odyssey!


It’s just stupendous what this little bird did, especially its six day nonstop, 3,300 mile flight to South America.  Think about that for a minute.  It didn’t stop to rest or to eat that whole time and it’s a little Sandpiper!

Phew.  There’s no word grandiose enough to describe how impressed I am.




Entry filed under: Animals (Other Than Us).

Google “Dumb Rick Perry” and You Get 1,310,000 Hits Tube to Work!

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Tim Truett  |  July 15, 2014 at 3:08 AM

    Lovely post. Thanks.

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