Ah, those little surfbirds, how they they love a low tide. Low water exposes their winter feeding grounds.

P1090136
Too busy to notice me

This flock seemed oblivious to anything but feeding. The rocks had a fresh growth of algae and apparently hosted lots of prey. Wintering on rocky surf-swept shores, the surfbirds’s dark plumage blends in nicely. Is it camouflage?  A lot of people think so. And it makes sense, the peregrines that patrol the winter range make a living with their vision.

P1090106
Surfbirds spend winter days foraging on reefs and rocky beaches

Surfbirds summer and nest in the Alaskan interior but the winter range is strictly surf zone.

P1090110
Accessible only at low tide

This is an attractive reach of shore and it’s here, right behind me where I approached the feeding flock, that Fall Creek hits the beach in a gem of a little coastal waterfall.

P1090162 (1)
Now I’ve got their attention

On the wintering grounds surfbirds and their common name are a good match. Described from a specimen collected in the Gulf of Alaska in 1778, the scientific description of the summer habitat, nests, and eggs in interior didn’t occur until much later.

Surfbirds depart before a breaking wave, northern Oregon coast
Was it me, or the breaking wave?

References

Senner, Stanley E. and Brian J. Mccaffery. 1997. Surfbird (Calidris virgata), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/266
doi:10.2173/bna.266

7 thoughts

    1. Me too! It was already on the rock when the surfbirds arrived. As I approached, it moved off onto the sand but as the surf rolled in it flew back into the rock. When surf broke on the rock the surfbirds flew off but as you saw, it stayed, calmly letting the water wash over its feet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s