Readers’ wildlife photos

September 19, 2021 • 8:15 am

It’s Sunday, and of course we must have a selection of themed bird pictures from biologist John Avise, which I have with me. Remember to get your own photos together!)

John’s narrative and identifications are indented, and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them.

Tilting and Bobbing

Rhythmic bobbing is an odd behavior shared by this week’s two featured avian species: the Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia), and the Louisiana Waterthrush (Sciurus motacilla).  As each bird walks along the bank of a stream or lake, it routinely bobs its booty as if listening to a musical tune.

Why do they do this?  I have no idea, but the question is on my bucket list of little queries I’d love to have answered.  [More generally, I never cease to be amazed by how genes apparently can prescribe even the most ethereal of characteristics– animal behaviors].

Another quirky behavior of the Spotted Sandpiper involves its flight mode. Characteristically, the bird flicks its wings below the horizontal and dangles its legs as it flits across a small body of water.

Louisiana Waterthrush tilting up:

Louisiana Waterthrush tilting down:

Louisiana Waterthrush in-between bobs:

Spotted Sandpiper frontal view of breeding plumage:

Spotted Sandpiper, side view of non-breeding plumage:

Spotted Sandpiper tilting up:

Spotted Sandpiper tilting down:

Spotted Sandpiper in-between bobs:

Spotted Sandpiper in flitting flight:

Another Spotted Sandpiper in flitting flight:

Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria); this is another species that
sometimes tilts and bobs:

JAC: I’ve put a video of a spotted sandpiper below; you can see the bobbing beginning about 24 seconds in.

7 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Fascinating! Now I’m wondering what the bobbing is about also. Display? Or what could drive that?
    Thanks for this post!

  2. Maybe the bobbing is a sort of polarizing of the water to cut reflection? It definitely has nothing to do with boxing. 😉 That’s all I got. Thanks for these, sandpipers are one of my favorite birds.

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