Airdate: May 02, 2007
Scientist: Mary Ann Bishop
Shorebirds: Western Sandpipers Migration
Western Sandpipers are in a "frequent flyer" class of their own.
ambience: Western sandpipers
Traveling 200 miles without stopping is a tough schedule for anyone to keep up, but it's all in a day's work for a shorebird known as the Western Sandpiper. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. The Western Sandpiper nests in sub-artic zones and winters in coastal lagoons from South America up to California. Unlike other birds, they migrate most of the year, flying an average of 180 to 200 miles a day. Mary Ann Bishop of the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station tells us what these Shorebirds are up to at this time of year.
"Western Sandpipers spend a lot of their life migrating. They lay their eggs typically about the 20th of May through the 10th of June - in that window. They lay four eggs and the eggs hatch within 18 to 21 days - those birds are up running around, and then the parents leave them pretty quickly... and then what you'll get are the females first heading south followed by the males. So that migration - they get up there! They get up to the Yukon-Kuskokwim area - that's their main breeding area. They'll get up there the 10th of May, 15th of May. Ten days later, lay those eggs, get started on breeding. By the end of June they've hatched their eggs, and then they start flying south! And it's a very long protracted fall migration: first the females, next the males, and then the juveniles. And so that migration south goes anywhere from June until September."
Although they are the most numerous shorebird found along the Pacific Flyway, the encroachment of humans does threaten the migratory and breeding areas of the Western Sandpiper. We'll hear more about that in our next program.
Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.