Monday, March 9, 2009

Birds on the Rocks

The rocky shoreline at MacKerricher State Park near Fort Bragg, CA, was rich in bird life during our visit almost two weeks ago; I suspect that is usually the case.

Not far from where we saw the Black Oystercatchers I wrote about the other day, cormorants were preening themselves on a large rock. We think these were Pelagic Cormorants, judging by the white patches visible under one tail and by the uniformly dark throats; these markers distinguish them from the larger Brandt's Cormorants.

This beauty with the "decurved" bill is a Whimbrel, about which the Cornell Lab of Ornithology says:
One of the most wide-ranging shorebirds in the world, the Whimbrel breeds in the Arctic in the eastern and western hemispheres, and migrates to South America, Africa, south Asia, and Australia. It uses its long, down-curved bill to probe deep in the sand of beaches for invertebrates, but also feeds on berries and insects. ... Some migrating Whimbrels make a nonstop flight of 4,000 km (2,500 miles) from southern Canada or New England to South America.
We spotted her (or him) picking her (or his) way through a tidepool on a large outcropping of rock.
On the much smaller rock above is a Black Turnstone, a mid-sized shorebird that winters all along the Pacific coast from Alaska to Baja. Its limited breeding ground in western Alaska puts it at serious risk from oil spills.
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