Shorebirds of different species can and do forage together

This series of wading shorebirds are from a mash alongside Blackpoint Wildlife Drive.

“The exposed mudflats on tidal wetlands attract a variety of shorebirds. Shorebirds are seasonal residents that make long migratory journeys between their breeding grounds in the Artic and their wintering area in South America. Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge provides an important resting and feeding area for this group of birds. Some stay for the winter, others use the refuge as a fuel stop before continuing on their journey.”

“In tidal areas, shorebird feeding schedules are influenced by the cycle of tides. Changes in tidal cycles expose foraging areas in mudflats for a period during the day. At other points during the cycle, the water in these same areas becomes too deep or the ground too dry for shorebirds to feed effectively.”

Though only one bird appears in each photo, “shorebirds of different species can and do forage together. Because bill length and shape vary from species to species, birds can pursue different prey in the same area at the same time without completing with each other. Because of varying bill lengths, different birds species find their food at different depths in the substrate. Mixed species of shorebirds are a common sight.”

The text in quotes is from a roadside information placard, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Titusville, Brevard County, Florida

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

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