[Tweeters] Banded Semipalmated Sandpiper

B Boekelheide bboek at olympus.net
Mon Aug 27 22:11:07 PDT 2018

Hello, Tweeters,

Here’s a nifty story about a banded Semipalmated Sandpiper we discovered on one of our field trips to Dungeness Bay this year. While scoping through the peeps at 3 Crabs on July 7, we discovered a Semipalmated Sandpiper with a lettered flag on its left leg and a yellow color band on its right leg, both above its “knees.” The bird fed with Leasts and Westerns fairly close to where we stood, so through our scopes we could read the letters on the flag - HCK. We carefully double-checked the letters and band placement amongst ourselves, and subsequently sent the info off to the Bird Banding Lab.

The BBL has since let us know that this bird was banded by Cape May Bird Observatory in Delaware Bay on May 23, 2004, making it at least 15 years old and possibly older. It also makes it one of the oldest surviving Semipalmated Sandpipers on record, perhaps the oldest. Not only that, it is the first Semipalmated Sandpiper banded at Delaware Bay to be resighted in the Pacific Northwest. Amazing!

Bruce Peterjohn, chief of the BBL, wrote back to me asking about the condition of the flag, which to us looked like a metallic flag with a slight greenish tint to it. He said the original flag was bright lime green when put on the bird, so apparently it has faded a good deal during its lifetime. The BBL folks were particularly curious about how the flag looked after 14 years flying around on the leg of a sandpiper.

Imagine the territory seen by this bird during its lifetime. One more amazing bird story!

Bob Boekelheide

More information about the Tweeters mailing list