Sharing the Shores with the Sanderlings

To help with our staying-at-home, many nature organizations have been showing photos and videos of interesting plants and animals. The American Bird Conservancy featured Sanderlings, Calidris alba, in one of these offerings.

Some of my fondest memories include Sanderlings that I watched and strolled among on Bunche Beach and Sanibel Island in Florida. My parents would often call them baby sandpipers, thinking they were the chicks of the taller Semipalmated Sandpipers, also present on the beaches. They never quite believed me when I said the Sanderlings were full-grown.

One of my favorite restorative activities is walking along the beach. The Sanderlings run along the edge of the waves, poking their long thin bills into the sand. If I keep a slow pace, they continue their work, sometimes darting ahead a few steps, sometimes dashing up farther on to the dry sand. When my presence is too intrusive, the entire group or flock takes off with rapidly fluttering colorful wings, cheeping noisily.

I was surprised to discover that Sanderlings breed in the high Arctic tundra, quite different from the Florida Gulf Coast. They’re members of the Scolopacidae family, which includes the more famous Red Knots and Long-billed Curlews. It also includes those Semipalmated Sandpipers.

I’m glad ABC chose to feature Sanderlings, one of my favorite birds. I look forward to being able to travel to join them on the beach again.

Note: A favorite bird of mine back home is the Roadrunner. To learn all about these special runners, check out my rhyming book, Don’t Make Me Fly!

illustration of a desert roadrunner
Strong. Fast and Courageous, Roadrunner Doesn’t Need To Fly