A Rare Sighting at Crockett Lake Preserve: A Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Author: Jay Adams | 08/28/20

Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Crockett Lake Preserve

A rare sighting of a Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Crockett Lake Preserve on August 24, 2020. Records suggest it might be only the third sighting of the bird species in Island County. The other two also were at Crockett Lake. Photo by Jay Adams.

A Buff-breasted Sandpiper was found at the Land Trust’s Crockett Lake Preserve this week. The bird was discovered on Monday, August 24 and was still present as of the morning of August 28. Records suggest this may be only the third sighting ever of this species in Island County.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper is normally a bird of the central flyway, but some birds follow a West Coast route. It favors wet fields and turf farms on migration, breeds in the Canadian arctic, and winters in southern South America. At Crockett Lake, the bird was feeding on insects among patches of Pacific Glasswort.

Unlike most shorebirds, Buff-breasted Sandpipers breed on leks — slightly raised areas of short tundra plants used by birds year after year — as do prairie chickens, for example. In these circumstances, one male usually mates with several females.

As the photo above shows, Buff-breasted Sandpipers are, well, buffy, especially the head, neck, and breast. Somewhat pigeon-headed, the bird is more likely to run than to fly when surprised. It has yellowish legs and feet.

The previous two confirmed sightings in Island County were also at Crockett Lake.

More than 230 bird species have been documented at Crockett Lake, one of Washington’s premier birding spots. American White Pelicans also have been seen on the lake this month.


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