Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Red Knot - Calidris Cantus

The Red Knot is a medium sized shore bird, chunky and short legged, quite similar to a Dowitcher but with a shorter bill; its winter plumage is grayish.  Dowitcher plumage is mostly light brownish.   The Knot is a tad smaller than a Dowitcher, and to confuse the identification process both birds have similar feeding strategies such as repeated, rapid probing into wet sand.

A few days ago on a drizzly, foggy morning I was standing on the edge of the pickleweed at the southern end of Morro Bay peering intently at a little gray bird probing in the sand, hoping the image in my binoculars was a Red Knot.  Of course at this time of year there is no redish color; also it would have been helpful if there had been a Dowitcher for comparison.   I was 90% certain it was a Red Knot, well maybe only 85% certain.  Even though it was foggy, fortune shined when a knowledgeable birder came upon the scene and confirmed my identification.  I was delighted with the sighting and had no idea, until I got home and began an internet search, that this sweet little bird was currently in a struggle for survival.

 From its breeding grounds in the high Arctic, the Red Knot makes a 9300 mile journey to its winter grounds in southern South America. Along the way they need to stop two or three times to refuel.  Humans actions or inaction at two of their primary stopovers are directly responsible for the rapid decline of the species.  If you would like more information on the plight of the Red Knot
go to

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