Ugh. Shorebirds. Boringly patterned and gray-brown shorebirds. Ugh.
Of course, that is not what I thought when I found these birds. I like shorebirds. They are marvels of evolutionary engineering, with fantastic migration and molt strategies. They also provide some of the more wonderful spectacles of the natural world.
But this is a photo quiz, not poetry.
When looking at an unknown shorebird – or, in this case, shorebirds, the first task should be determining to which ABA-Area shorebird family our mystery bird might be referable: Burhinidae (thick-knees), Recurvirostridae (stilts and avocets), Haemotopodidae (oystercatchers), Charadriidae (plovers), Jacanidae (jacanas), Scolopacidae (sandpipers), or Glareolidae (pratincoles). For this quiz bird, we can easily rule out, by plumage and various shape features, all of the families except the last. Of course, that last family is the largest, most-diverse shorebird group, so that does not help all that much.
After deciding that our quiz bird is a sandpiper of some sort, the next task is to winnow the field, so I will point out some of the features useful in determining the single species represented. Note the bill length and shape, the length and color tone of the legs, and any distinct and distinctive plumage features. Yes, there are such plumage features, though finding such might require careful scrutiny.
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