Shorebird migration is in full swing. Many of these migrants have nested on the arctic tundra and are heading for Central or South America to overwinter. These trips demand lots of fuel so our shorebirds must feed voraciously.

Most shorebirds are fairly confiding birds so it’s easy to get close enough to watch their feeding behaviors. Our shorebirds show a diversity of foraging techniques.

Let’s start with the plovers. Semipalmated Plovers, Black-bellied Plovers and American Golden-Plovers, all common fall migrants in Maine. Plovers rely on their eyes to find food on intertidal mudflats. The plovers practice a type of feeding that animal behaviorists called run-and-peck. A plover will stand in one spot on the intertidal surface and keep an eye out for movement at the surface of the sediment. The plover will run over and grab the unsuspecting arthropod or marine worm.