2015-10-01 / Nature

Migration Notes

The American golden plover makes one of the longest migrations of any shorebird species. During a recent morning’s walk, seven of these interesting sojourners were sighted mixed in with a group of 18 black-bellied plovers along the rocky shoreline of Brenton Point. This unique bird travels from the vast grassy expanses and shorelines of South America to its nesting habitat of dry tundra, surrounded by blooming rhododendrons, located high in the Arctic regions of Canada and Alaska. Large flocks migrate through North America’s interior, stopping in farm fields, prairies, and dry lake beds, while much smaller numbers are observed on coastal mudflats and beaches. Once a prized game bird, this species is rather uncommon in the eastern sections of North America.

The breeding plumage of the male of this species is very striking and includes a black face and breast, while the wings, back and head are covered with white and gold speckles. With a body length of 10.5 inches and a wingspan of 26 inches, this long distance flier is fairly easy to spot in mixed shorebird flocks.

The fall migration cycle along the Atlantic Flyway is beginning to slow, and the next two weeks offer the last chance to see southbound migrants as they pass through our region.

For the latest sightings, check with the Audubon Society of Rhode Island at asri.org or call 401-949-5454.

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