Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Indiana Lesser Sand-plover

Well this was a bird I never expected to see.  While Lesser Sand-plover (previously known as Mongolian Plover) is somewhat regular in some of the Alaskan island vagrant traps I think there's maybe one inland North American record.  And since I found I kind of like birding in the tropics this last winter I don't know if I'll ever make it to Gambell or Attu or wherever.  But, somehow, one fell out one breakwall short of Michigan. 

These are cropped fairly tightly
It was a much bulkier bird than I expected.  Based on Sibley plates of the bill I was expecting a Wilson's-like bird, but the long legs and bulky body made it seem somewhat intermediate between Wilson's and a Golden Plover.  Sibley points out the brown nape; all of our small, variously breast-banded plovers have white that extends back there.

In the drizzly light rain the ISO was pushed pretty high.  You can just make out a hint of a buffy breast band.  The white feathers in front of the primaries aren't wing feathers, rather flank feathers that are loose (and shown on both sides).  I have no idea if they have looser feathers than most shorebirds (like Ruff) or not.

There is also a bird known as Greater Sand-plover, a resident more of the Middle East and central Asia (rather than Siberian Asia) which per O'Brien et al would have even longer legs and a longer bill.  It fed and preened pretty actively while we watched it.
The pale feather edgings of the scapulars and wing coverts make it a juvenile.  It must have spent most of its life flying to get to Indiana.  Now if it could just come a few miles farther...

2 comments:

Nathan Martineau said...

Matt: all you had to do was organize a group of people to chase it north across the lake, and it would have landed at Tiscornia!

Matt said...

Don't think it wasn't discussed! At least to the state line...