Thursday, July 25, 2013

Spotted Sandpiper Chick

Spotted Sandpiper Chick - Actitis macularia

On July 24, 2013, on the shore of the Elbow River by Kingfisher Island, I heard and then saw nesting Spotted Sandpipers in two different locations. Both sandpipers tried to lure me away from the nest. I carefully searched for the nests but did not find any eggs.

However, at the second site, I saw a tiny Spotted Sandpiper chick scurry away from under a Willow bush. The chick looked like a two-inch grey fur ball running on tiny legs. By the time I had my camera up the little bird was gone and notwithstanding 10 patient minutes of watching and searching, I never saw the chick again.

The flood was 25 days ago. The area where I saw the chick was likely still underwater 20 days ago. Since Spotted Sandpipers incubate eggs for 20 to 24 days, the mother must have laid the egg for this chick within days of the flood on higher ground. Since most Spotted Sandpipers had finished egg laying by mid June, and since all those eggs were likely lost in the flood, this late pregnancy was fortuitous for the mother. Usually there are four eggs. Perhaps the mother laid fewer eggs in the post flood turmoil, or perhaps this chick is the only survivor of a larger brood.


Baicich PJ, Harrison CJO. Nests, Eggs, and Nestlings of North American Birds. Princeton UP. 2005.

No comments: