Gerrit Vyn of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology recorded the Spoon-billed Sandpiper in the far northeast of Russia, where as few as 100 remaining pairs breed each summer. This sandpiper depends on key coastal wetlands near the Yellow Sea to fuel the long-distance migration to its wintering areas. But the Yellow Sea is not what it used to be — massive projects in China and South Korea for agriculture, aquaculture, and industry have eliminated more than half of the intertidal areas that these migrants depend on. And for many, their populations are rapidly falling. The Spoon-billed Sandpiper may soon be extinct. Be sure to watch Gerrit's moving video!
The Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper
By Gerrit Vyn
This is BirdNote.
[Song of Spoon-billed Sandpiper ]
That’s the song of one of the rarest birds on earth — the Spoon-billed Sandpiper. I recorded it in the far northeast of Russia where as few as 100 remaining pairs of this mysterious little sandpiper with a remarkable spoon-shaped beak go to breed each summer. [Rhythmically repeated call of Spoon-billed Sandpiper]
The Spoon-billed Sandpiper depends on key coastal wetlands to fuel its long distance migration to its wintering areas. And for many species migrating south on the flyway from eastern Russia and Alaska, to Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand, the Yellow Sea is “Grand Central Station” for birds. They all stop there to refuel and continue their journeys. [flock calls of Dunlin]
But the Yellow Sea is not what it used to be — massive projects in China and South Korea for agriculture, aquaculture, and industry have eliminated more than half of the intertidal areas that all of these migrants depend on. And for many, their populations are rapidly falling. The Spoon-billed Sandpiper may soon be extinct. [Adult Spoon-billed nest calls]
I came to know a handful of these beautiful birds in the velvety hills of Siberia as they sang, courted, and eventually settled down to nest. I sat on the tundra with a Spoon-billed Sandpiper as its eggs were hatching and watched as the downy doe-eyed chicks took their first feeble steps into our rapidly changing world. [Calls of Spoon-billed Sandpipers]
I hope for all of us that they make it.
For BirdNote, I’m Gerrit Vyn. Find a link to a video of these sandpipers hatching at birdnote.org.
Vocalizations of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Song of Spoon-billed Sandpiper , Rhythmically-repeated call , calls of adults and chicks at nest  recorded by Gerrit Vyn; flock calls of Dunlin  recorded by W.W.H. Gunn.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org November 2014/2015 Narrator: Gerrit Vyn
ID# SPBISA-01-2012-11-09 SPBISA-01