Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper - 3rd Idaho Record

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper at Indian Creek Reservoir, Ada County, Idaho 10/27/2012.

First seen today by Jay Carlisle and Heidi Ware of the Idaho Bird Observatory (Heidi also occasionally writes for, and subsequently seen by about dozen other Idaho birders including me! My life bird #444. This will likely be just the third sighting recognized by the Idaho Bird Review Committee.
There was a pair of beautifully colored juveniles. Most often partially concealed by vegetation.
Some diagnostic images:
A look at the feather pattern and yellowish leg color common to juveniles. Broad rufous tertial edges help distinguish this bird from the Pectoral Sandpiper. 
Preening - note the extensive buff on breast below the streaking
A decent look at the rich rufous cap and head pattern with the bold supercilium. One of the birders out there called it "a big Chipping Sparrow".
The pair of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers were seen early in the day roosting in the rocks on the shoreline. Later feeding along a muddy-sandy spit, and in the afternoon we saw them along more vegetated shore edges near a flock of Long-billed Dowitchers. I have dozens of lesser quality images, but they show the birds foraging and probing in the mud, at times with large mud clods on their bills.

The image below shows the eye ring and bill shape, size, and color.
All of my images were digiscoped with a Swarovski ATX 85mm spotting scope and an iPhone 4S.

This a great sighting for Idaho, and really an especially exciting sighting anywhere away from the Pacific Coast. It was also great to meet a few Idaho birders I had only known by email and to get reacquainted with others since I have moved back to Idaho.

eBird sightings map


  1. Wow Robert that's great! What a marvelous sighting, and excellent documentation too. Congratulations!

  2. Great photos Robert. So glad that you were able to see it.

  3. ...pretty cool, Robert! Congrats on another lifer. I remember when you hit #400!
    The scope-iPhone combination is really working well. I'm going to have to try it with mine!

  4. Terrific sighting! Congrats on another lifer Robert!

  5. Wonderful photos and descriptions. Thanks for sharing.
    Tricia H.

  6. Great sighting, and your photos came out great

  7. Great find! Wonderful images of these beautiful birds! Congratulations on the lifer!