LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The bird of the week for today is Pectoral Sandpiper.
The Pectoral Sandpiper is a medium-sized, chunky shorebird. It is a long-distance migrant that breeds on the Arctic Tundra, and winters in South America. It is listed as common in Arkansas during both Spring and Fall migration. Once again, in hot weather, car birding is the way to go, and Pectoral Sandpipers are an easy find in Arkansas during the late summer and early fall months! Mudflats and shallow wetlands are sure to have these and lots of other shorebirds in good numbers. Shorebirds can be difficult to identify because species often look so similar to one another.
The Pectoral Sandpiper is easy to start with because they are common and have one very easily distinguishable characteristic (for which they are named). Most shorebirds are brown/ buff/ tan above with white below, all with slightly differing patterns. The Pectoral Sandpiper has a dark, densely streaked chest showing sharp border with white belly. So novice birders can remember it easily…it is a sandpiper with dark streaking to its PECTORAL muscle! Thus the name, Pectoral Sandpiper!
Like most shorebirds, this bird uses its long bill to search for aquatic macroinvertebrates (bugs) just under the surface of the mud.
Find this bird in mudflats and shallow wetlands. A good place to look in central Arkansas is Bald Knob National Wildlife Refuge, drained fish ponds (only if you have landowner permission!), and along shallow banks of rivers, lakes, and other water bodies. Bring your binoculars and a spotting scope to get great looks at this bird's beautifully understated plumage.