Sunday, 11 May 2014

Molting Shorebirds



Shorebirds are the most visible of the migrating birds seen on the island of Barbados, but at this time of the year many of the species which wintered here are moving on.  The few remaining birds, plus the ones that may have stopped over on the journey north are beginning to molt into breeding plumage. Three of the more visable bird species seen are Sanderlings, Spotted Sandpipers and Ruddy Turnstones. Take a look at their plumage changes.

Sanderlings

  The plumage more familiar to us for Sanderlings is the white and light greyish coloration.  It is rare to see its alternative plumage, a reddish brown plumage, on the island but I was able observed molting Sanderlings on May 28th, at Six Men’s Bay, St. Peter.

Molting Sanderling @ Six Men's Bay on April 28 2014

Molting Sanderling @ Six Men's Bay on April 28 2014

Sanderling in non-breeding Plumage

Spotted Sandpiper


Another molting Sandpiper more commonly seen in breeding plumage at this time is the Spotted Sandpiper.  When you see this bird in the later parts of the year, you are always asked why it is called spotted Sandpiper, but it is clear to see as spots start to appear on its underparts in the months of April and May.

Spotted Sandpiper in breeding plumage

Spotted Sandpiper in breeding plumage
Non-breeding plumage


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruddy Turnstone


Ruddy Turnstones also take on a different look at this time of the year.  The more common brownish plumage gives way to a reddish –orange upperpart and black and white facial and chest markings.   
 
Breeding Plumage

Breeding Plumage

 
Non-breeding Plumage





While I like to see the alternative plumage, I am missing the birds and look forward to their return in the next three to four months - that will be the time for the Southern Migration.