Sharp-tailed-Sandpiper-097a.jpg (25767 bytes)Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Calidris acuminata), Irondequoit Bay, Monroe Co., NY, 12 October 2002.


All pictures were taken by my son Jay and me and are Kevin and Jay McGowan.  They were taken with an Olympus D-40 or an Olympus D-450 digital camera through a Swarovski HD-80 or Swarovski ATS-65 spotting scope.

Found by Dominic Sherony on 10 October 2002, on the mudflats at the south side of Irondequoit Bay, just outside of Rochester, NY.  The juvenile Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was seen by many as it foraged with Pectoral Sandpipers.

Distinguishing it from the Pectoral Sandpipers was the deeper rusty cap, the buffy chest with striping restricted to the upper breast, and the scattered striping on some of the undertail coverts.  The bird had a prominent white supercilium, but it was matched by a couple of the Pectorals present.  Contrary to what the books said, it did not broaden behind the eye.  The white eyering was not noticeable most of the time, as the bird was very active foraging and almost never sat still; it can be seen in some of the photos.

It was slightly larger than most of the Pectorals, suggesting that it was a male.  It is my understanding that within the same sex, Pectorals should be slightly larger.  The legs appeared more green and less yellow than the Pectorals too.  With my red-cone deficiency, I could not notice any difference in brightness on the scapulars, although some of my colleagues thought the Sharp-tail was brighter.   But, there were some pretty bright Pectorals out there.

Sharp-tailed-Sandpiper-064a.jpg (43751 bytes) This shot shows how red the cap was, and that it was deeper in color than the scapulars (should be the same shade in Pectoral).
This is a different angle showing the same thing.   Notice that the supercilium does not split and show a thinner white line above, as is often the case in Pectoral Sandpipers.  The red cap bordered by the bright white eyestripes is striking. Sharp-tailed-Sandpiper-182a.jpg (39641 bytes)


The two-toned chest, with striping and clear buff, can be seen in this photo. 

Note also the thick-based, slightly drooping bill.

Sharp-tailed-Sandpiper-065a.jpg (33290 bytes)


Sharp-tailed-Sandpiper-146a.jpg (38174 bytes) A few black streaks can be seen here on the undertail coverts.
Sharp-tailed-Sandpiper-092a.jpg (17297 bytes) Sharp-tailed-Sandpiper-187a.jpg (42492 bytes)
These two shots are our two best ones that show the streaking on the undertail coverts.  The streaking was not that noticeable in the field, but it shows up well here.  Pectorals do not have this streaking.


The chest pattern can be seen well here.  This angle makes it look like a striped necklace over a broad buffy chest.  The eyering looks more prominent here than I ever noticed it. Sharp-tailed-Sandpiper-150a.jpg (36251 bytes)


Sharp-tailed-Sandpiper-112a.jpg (23322 bytes) This shot of the bird preening shows the extent of the rufous edging on the tertials.

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Revised: October 15, 2002.