Early May is a great time to get out and experience shorebird migration in the Midwest. It is our opportunity to see birds that only pass through the Heartland on the journeys to their nesting grounds in the Spring and their wintering grounds in the Fall.
Multiple species of shorebirds passing through Iowa are headed to the North Slope of Alaska. The nesting season is short-lived. Therefore, the birds do not dawdle enroute.
The Long-billed Dowitcher is aptly named. It uses its long bill to probe the shallow waters and nearby mudflats for aquatic invertebrates. Apparently, they have excellent night vision which seems odd since they nest in the land of the midnight sun.
Pectoral Sandpipers have a shorter bill than the Dowitchers. They pick and probe the shallow wetlands and mud in hopes of finding invertebrates. The males arrive in the Tundra when it is partially clear of snow and ice, to set up their territories.
The striking Ruddy Turnstone mainly forages out of the water, flipping rocks, seaweed, and other debris in search of food. While the breeding birds nest in the Tundra, the non-breeding turnstones can be found along coastal USA.
As I contemplate these long-distance travelers, I am reminded that conservation of our natural resources is important on a global scale. What happens around the world impacts the species of birds that migrate throughout the USA. Also, our negative impacts on birds in the USA affect other nations.