Mystery Bird: Red Knot, Calidris (Tringa) canutus

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[Mystery bird] Red Knot, Calidris (Tringa) canutus photographed at Bolivar Peninsula, Galveston County, Texas. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]

Image: Joseph Kennedy, 26 April 2010 [larger view].

Nikon D200, Kowa 883 telescope with TSN-PZ camera eyepiece 1/1000s f/8.0 at 1000.0mm iso400.

Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.

There is something very sad about this beautiful migratory species, can you tell me what that is?

The red knot stopover on the Delaware Bay is the most heavily studied in the world and the resulting analysis of the data is not encouraging. Experts predict that unless serious conservation strategies are funded and implemented immediately, the western hemisphere population of red knots is expected to become extinct within this decade.

Review all mystery birds to date.

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One of those damn shore birds that I always get mixed up. I'm going to say this one is named for its breast but not its muscle, and point to the wing pattern as a distinguishing field mark.


Could this be one of those rather rare birds that I saw a segment on a pbs special on a while back that needs horseshoe crab eggs to survive a long migration? (Because otherwise I'm way off track, aren't I?)

Looks like a "Knutt" (German name of Calidris canutus). The beak is relatively short. Knutts have reddish brown plumage in summer and grey in winter. But here in Germany they will find no horseshoe crab eggs.

I've been out of the conservation world for a few years (after 15 years on the board of Portland (OR) Audubon) and am depressed to read this:

In Delaware, a two-year ban on the harvesting of horseshoe crabs was enacted but struck down by a judge who cited insufficient evidence that the ban would help restore the Mystery Bird's numbers to justify the potential disruption to the fishing industry.

Going to take a stab at this (new to blog) but could it be the Red Knot? Characteristic of the cinnamon colouring of the underside of the face, throat and breast with a light coloured rump (at least for breeding plumage)

Welcome to the mystery bird gang, Camberly. I think you've got it.

And I think the sad news is that the horseshoe crab population is dropping hugely, and this puts the whole population of Red Knots in danger, too. :(