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What are Shorebirds?

I’ll go up to my knees, but I don’t want to swim…

Shorebirds are a diverse group, often referred to as ‘waders’ due to their habit of standing in shallow water to feed. Though shorebirds are closely associated with wetland areas and are considered to be wetland birds, they do not normally swim. Their bills are adapted for probing and grasping beneath the surface for food. In Nova Scotia, the large majority of visiting shorebirds feed and rest in coastal areas such as intertidal mudflats, salt marshes, and estuaries, though some occasionally will also use inland freshwater wetlands.

Of the shorebirds known to migrate through Fundy in fall, the species most numerous are Semipalmated Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plover, Least Sandpiper and Short-billed Dowitcher. The large majority (75%) are Semipalmated sandpiper.

Least Sandpiper feeding at water’s edge. (Photo: J Wolford)


Fall Shorebird Migration

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Text prepared by Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources (NSDNR)
Graphics provided by NSDNR unless otherwise indicated
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Page last updated 11 January, 2006 4:36 PM