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Calidris alba


Sanderlings feed on invertebrate prey buried in the sand in the upper intertidal. In North America this largely consists of the isopods, Excirolana linguifrons and Excirolana kincaidii, and the mole crab, Emerita analoga. When the tide is out these crustaceans live in burrows some way beneath the surface. When the tide comes in, they move into the upper layers of sand so as to be able to feed on the plankton and detritus that washes over them with each wave. They then burrow rapidly down again as the water retreats. They leave no marks on the surface so the sanderlings hunt for them by plunging their beaks into the sand at random, consuming whatever they find. Their bills can only penetrate two or three centimetres and as the water swirls around and retreats, the sand is softer and this makes it easier for the birds' beaks to penetrate further.


Ocean shore


Bird in breeding plumage

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KarenL 8 years ago

Fun fact! The sanderling is a small active shorebird, often seen at the waters edge running in and out of the surf. An unusual distinguishing feature is the absence of a rear toe (hallux); an adaptation for running fast on sand.

Maria dB
Maria dB 8 years ago

Thank you, Alice!

alicelongmartin 8 years ago

Excellent pictures!

Maria dB
Spotted by
Maria dB

Topsail Beach, North Carolina, USA

Spotted on May 15, 2013
Submitted on Jun 10, 2013

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