FW: [canberrabirds] ID Help

To: <>
Subject: FW: [canberrabirds] ID Help
From: "Geoffrey Dabb" <>
Date: Sun, 5 Jan 2014 16:41:32 +1100

I think the bird that has been around since December is different from the one reported in early November.  Anyone who has images of both might like to compare them, noting Stuart’s helpful comments below. 


From: Stuart Rae [
Sent: Saturday, 4 January 2014 1:31 PM
To: Lindsay Hansch
Cc: canberra birds
Subject: Re: [canberrabirds] ID Help


Thanks for posting these two images Lindsay,

They might be distant shots, but handy for reference.

The single bird is a Pectoral Sandpiper and the other two are Sharp-tailed's. The sharpies look different from one another and that is the useful point. The bird nearest the camera is a bird which hatched in Siberia in 2013. The creamy-buff breast and throat colouring is that of a young Sharpy - no other calidrid has this colouring. It is also likely a female as it is smaller than the other bird. The most similar bird to this would be a first-year reeve, female ruff, but that is larger, longer-legged and longer-necked, it does not look like a sandpiper. The bird behind is an adult, hatched in 2012 or before.

For species ID, the Pectoral has 1) a pectoral band, the sharp difference between the breast and white belly, and 2) the supercilium, the white line above the eye is prominent before the eye and less so behind the eye. In the Sharp-tailed, the speckles on the breast fade into the belly, but that can be a comparative feature tricky to use if not familiar with the Pectoral S. It is better to look for the white supercilium which is faint before the eye and brighter behind the eye and contrasts with a dark streak below.

And the confusing issue is that these arctic-breeding waders are continually moulting and growing replacement feathers while in Australia. So the young bird will be less 'pink' as the year goes by, and will grow dark speckled throat and breast feathers before June. Then they begin moulting out their breeding plumage while incubating their eggs back in Siberia.

And don't worry, we can all get them wrong.


I am having difficulty sorting out the sandpipers at Kelly’s Swamp.  The two pictures below were taken from some distance and are not very good but at least they might be enough to shed some light onto which (if either) is a Pectoral Sandpiper.




Any advice appreciated


Lindsay Hansch

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