Subject: Shorebird Behaviour Date: May 02 09:37:00 1995 From: "Gates, Bryan" - BGATES at ASSESSMENT.env.gov.bc.ca
In response to Bert Guttman's question:
One-legged feeding by Dunlins is something we often see here, and is also practiced by Western and Least sandpipers and I believe by other shorebirds. I agree that it's a method of thermoregulation (heat retention), but it may also be just restful feeding.
Another interesting behaviour noticed at Witty's Lagoon (near Victoria) on Sunday was perhaps stimulated by a Merlin that was periodically rocketing in on about 300 mixed shorebirds. The tide was rising, thus reducing the amount of open mud and edge. In fact, the only remaining mud was close to the Salicornia ond other salt-tolerant plants lining the edges. These plants limit the peripheral vision of the shorebirds -- not a good thing when a fast, low flying raptor is in the area. Thus, many of the birds crowded onto a partly submerged log in the open water....perhaps 100 Short-billed Dowitchers, Black-bellied Plovers, Dunlins, Western and Least sandpipers. As more Dunlins arrived, there was no room at the "inn", so some of the arrivals settled gently onto the backs of the dowitchers. The larger birds actually tolerated the Dunlins for a few seconds before shaking them off or flying up, only to lose their spot on the log, often to the more maneuverable Dunlin interloper.
Behaviours are what make this hobby so fascinating...behaviours of birds and of birders!
Bryan Gates, Victoria bgates at assessment.env.gov.bc.ca