Limicola falcinellus (*)
Limicola falcinellus (Pontoppidan, 1763)
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The Broad-billed Sandpiper, Limicola falcinellus, is a small wading bird. It is the only member of the genus Limicola; some have proposed that it should be placed in the genus Erolia with the "stint" sandpipers, but more recent research (Thomas et al., 2004) suggests that it is should rather go into the genus Philomachus with the ruff and possibly the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper; it certainly is a fairly unusual calidrid.
Broad-billed Sandpipers are small waders, slightly smaller than the Dunlin, but with a longer straighter bill, and shorter legs. The breeding adult has patterned dark grey upperparts and white underparts with blackish markings on the breast. It has a pale crown stripe and supercilia.
In the boreal winter, they are pale grey above and white below, like a winter Dunlin, but retaining the head pattern. Juveniles have backs, similar to young Dunlin, but the white flanks and belly and brown-streaked breast are distinctive.
Distribution and habitat
The Broad-billed Sandpiper is strongly migratory, spending the non-breeding season from easternmost Africa, through south and south-east Asia to Australasia. It is highly gregarious, and will form flocks with other calidrid waders, particularly Dunlins. Despite its European breeding range, this species is rare on passage in western Europe, presumably because of the south-easterly migration route.
This bird's breeding habitat is wet taiga bogs in Arctic northern Europe and Siberia. The male performs an aerial display during courtship. They nest in a ground scrape, laying 4 eggs.
They forage in soft mud on marshes and the coast, mainly picking up food by sight. They mostly eat insects and other small invertebrates.
The Broad-billed Sandpiper is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.
1. ^ BirdLife International (2004). Limicola falcinellus. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
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