Arctic Bound

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.

The Long-billed Dowitcher nests in the Arctic and overwinters across South America. Sony a1 + 600mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @ 840mm, ISO 500, f/7.1, 1/1250. ©Stanley Buman. Dunbar Slough, Greene County, IA.

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.

Once done nesting in the Arctic, the Pectoral Sandpiper journeys back to North and South America, Asia, and Europe to overwinter. Sony a1 + 600mm lens & 1.4x teleconverter @ 840mm, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/2500. ©Stanley Buman. Dunbar Slough, Greene County, IA.

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.

Ruddy Turnstones arrive in the Tundra from far-away places such as Western Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia, South America, and the east and west coasts of North America. Canon 1D Mark IIN + 500mm & 1.4x teleconverter @700mm, ISO 320, f/6.3, 1/1600. ©Stanley Buman. Swan Lake State Park, Carroll County, IA.

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.

4 thoughts on “Arctic Bound”

  1. Thank You for sending these Stanley, I really enjoy them, you have some really good pictures.
    Best Wishes…Myron L Johnson

  2. Carol Gronstal

    These are great photos. My sister and I like to go to the Nebraska panhandle in the Spring to see the migrating birds there. We’ve missed it the last two years due to covid-19. The lovely thing about wading birds is they’re there all day long.

    1. Thank you Carol. Shorebirds surely do come in a lot of shapes and sizes. The panhandle of NE has some unique shorebirds. One of these years, I hope to get back out there in May/June to photograph them.

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