Thursday, 2 April 2015

B.O.T.D. Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda)

After the multitudes of North America's passenger pigeons had all been slaughtered for market, commercial hunters turned their guns on the innumerable upland sandpipers that flourished across our vast, rolling grasslands. By the early 1900s, with no restrictions on the carnage, scarcely an upland sandpiper could be found anywhere on the plains. The sweet-voiced birds - which, simply by feeding themselves, must have saved the country from many a scourge of grasshoppers, army worms, weevils, and cutworms - were almost annihilated.

Alarmed by the disappearance of so many birds, various states began to pass protective laws; but it was too late for some species and nearly so for others. Like all birds, upland sandpipers face many natural hazards - accidents, diseases, storms, and hungry predators, among others. In addition, they fly a difficult migration route of 7,000 to 8,000 miles - and are still hunted on their South American wintering grounds. Despite all this, the upland sandpipers have defied all odds and appear to be holding their own quite well across most of their large summer range.

Cornell Lab: Upland Sandpiper                                                                 Reader's Digest: Book of North American Birds