Sandpiper returns to FBBO after 6 years
Foreman’s Branch Bird Observatory had an amazing recovery on May 4th, 2017! We recaptured a Least Sandpiper that we had banded back on May 8th, 2011. This bird returned one other time, we recaptured it the following year on may 8th, 2012, but have not seen it since then.
These birds winter as far south as Brazil and Peru and breed in the arctic. The idea that this bird is migrating between those two locations and found our tiny mudflats over several years is amazing! The mud flats at Foreman’s Branch are small and seemingly inconsequential when compared to the range map of a Least Sandpiper, but clearly they do matter since this bird has been using them for at least 6 years now. Stopover habitat is critical! Just as you may have your favorite rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike, migratory birds return to the same locations year after year to rest and refuel on their journeys. Protecting these habitats is just as important as protecting breeding and wintering grounds.
Without banding data, we would never have known that the Least Sandpipers we are seeing this week are some of the same ones we saw last week, never mind last year. Bird banding provides many insights into so many aspects of bird biology.