Spoon-billed Sandpiper: Multimedia Resources

Spoon-billed Sandpiper Resources

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Spoon-billed Sandpiper: CourtshipSpoon-billed Sandpiper: Courtship

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Spoon-billed Sandpiper: HatchSpoon-billed Sandpiper: Hatch

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Unique Migratory Shorebird Is One of World's Most Critically Endangered Species

The enigmatic Spoon-billed Sandpiper migrates from remote northern Russia to Southeast Asia, where forces such as habitat loss and subsistence hunting are driving it to the brink. The global population is estimated to be as few as 100 breeding pairs, and recentlly the species has declined at a precipitous rate of approximately one quarter of the adult population per year. Unless this rate is stemmed, the Spoon-billed Sandpiper will likely go extinct in less than a decade. 

In collaboration with Birds Russia and the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force, the Cornell Lab participated in two expeditions in 2011 and 2012 to collect the first high-definition video, high-quality photographs, and stereo sound recordings of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper on its breeding grounds in the Russian far east and its wintering grounds in Myanmar. The images and sounds are being distributed to organizations around the world that are working to conserve the species and its habitats. 

The four videos presented here represent the first intimate looks into the life of this species ever recorded. Additional video and audio material will be released here over the coming months.

Spoon-billed Sandpipers arrive on their nesting grounds in late May and early June, while the land is still gripped in ice and snow. Over the course of about two months, as the landscape transforms from white to brown to green, they court, nest and raise their young. Filmed during June and July, 2011, near Meinypilgyno, Chukotka, Russia.

Vital Statistics

Conservation Status: Critically Endangered (IUCN). Perhaps as few as 100 breeding pairs remaining.

Appearance: A small sandpiper with a one-of-a-kind black spoon-tipped bill. Breeding adults are rich reddish brown on the head, breast and back. In the nonbreeding season they molt into gray and white. Legs are black.

Food: On the breeding grounds, larval and adult invertebrates, especially midges, mosquitoes, flies, beetles, spiders, and some plant material. Elsewhere, marine invertebrates including worms and shrimp. 

Vocalizations: Spoon-billed Sandpipers give a variety of trilled breeding calls from the ground and during aerial displays. 

Summer: Coastal tundra along Bering Sea from Russia’s Chukotsk peninsula south to Kamchatka peninsula. 
Winter: Coastal lagoons of Myanmar and Bangladesh; also coastal southern China, Thailand and Vietnam.
Migratory route: A 4,800 mile migration from arctic Russia, down the Pacific coast to Japan, North and South Korea, and China, ending at the main wintering grounds in Southeast Asia.

Reasons for Decline: Elimination of migratory stopover habitat along the Yellow Sea; subsistence hunting on the wintering grounds.

More information about the Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

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