The Stilt Sandpiper, Micropalmata himantopus or Calidris himantopus, is a small shorebird; it bears some resemblance to the smaller calidrid sandpipers or "stints". DNA sequence information is incapable to determine on whether it should be placed in Calidris or maintained in the monotypic (one single species) genus Micropalmata (Thomas et al., 2004). It appears most closely allied with the Curlew Sandpiper, which is another aberrant species only tentatively placed in Calidris and could conceivably separated with it in Erolia.
Distribution / Range
The Stilt Sandpiper breeds in the open arctic tundra of North America It is a very long-distance migrant, wintering mainly in South America. It occurs as a rare vagrant to western Europe.
This species nests on the ground, laying three or four eggs. The male has a display flight. Outside the breeding season, this bird is normally found on inland waters, rather than open coasts.
This species resembles the Curlew Sandpiper in its curved bill, long neck, pale supercilium (line above eye) and white rump. It is readily distinguished from that species by its much longer and paler legs, which give rise to its English and scientific names. It also lacks an obvious wing bar in flight.
Breeding adults are distinctive, heavily barred beneath, and with reddish patches above and below the supercilium (line above eye). The back is brown with darker feather centres. Winter plumage is basically gray above and white below.
Juvenile Stilt Sandpipers resemble the adults in their strong head pattern and brownish back, but they are not barred below, and show white fringes on the back feathering.
Diet / Feeding
These birds forage on muddy, picking up food by sight, often jabbing like the dowitchers with which they often associate. They mainly eat insects and other invertebrates.
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