Support
Subscribe
Subscribe to BirdNote

Sign up to receive a weekly email preview of the following week's shows!

Sign Up
Support BirdNote

Help BirdNote tell more stories, reach more people, and inspire action.

DONATE

You are here

Rock Sandpipers Are Tough - Homer Spit Christmas Bird Count

Gritty little shorebirds!
© Aaron Lang View Large

It's winter on Homer Spit in southern Alaska, and Rock Sandpipers feed along the gravelly shore. These small shorebirds scurry this way and that, probing into the gravel and seaweed. Anything that moves is fair game, especially amphipods, the little crustaceans that hop about when exposed. The sandpipers also snap up clams, snails, and barnacles. Gulls, waterfowl, and many other birds forage along the spit, but Rock Sandpipers are the only shorebirds. How do we know which birds winter on Homer Spit? One way is through the annual Christmas Bird Count, or CBC, sponsored by National Audubon. These counts go on all over the country. You don't have to be an expert to join one - just bring your binoculars and your curiosity!

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®
Rock Sandpipers Are Tough
Written by Dennis Paulson

This is BirdNote! 

[Waves crashing on rocky shore, wind howling] 

Although the town of Homer is in southern Alaska, no one would ever think of it as southern on this midwinter day. The temperature is well below freezing, and flurries of snow dance in the blustery wind.  This is a place for rugged birders and the even tougher birds they seek. [Rock Sandpiper calls]

So let’s put on heavy parkas and head onto Homer Spit, on the longest road into ocean waters anywhere in the world. We’ll watch in particular for Rock Sandpipers feeding along the gravelly shore. These small gray shorebirds run or walk this way and that, probing into the gravel and seaweed. Anything that moves is fair game, especially amphipods, the little crustaceans that hop about when exposed. But the birds also recognize clams, snails, and barnacles as tasty food. [Calls of Glaucous-winged Gulls]

Gulls, waterfowl, and many other birds forage along the spit, but Rock Sandpipers are the only shorebirds. [Calls of Rock Sandpipers] Their dense feather coat extends down their legs almost to the ankle, affording some protection from the cold. [Calls of Rock Sandpipers]

How do we know exactly which birds winter on Homer Spit? Well, one way is through the annual Christmas Bird Count sponsored by National Audubon. These counts go on all over the country. You don’t have to be an expert to join one – just bring your binoculars and your curiosity. To find one near you, begin at birdnote.org. 

###

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Rock Sandpiper [63777] recorded by W.W.H. Gunn; Glaucous-winged Gull [3350] by A.A. Allen.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Waves recorded by Kessler Productions
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson

© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org     December 2014/2017   Narrator: Mary McCann

ID# ROSA-01-2012-12-17    ROSA-01         

Sights & Sounds

Home
Shows
Galleries
More