11-12 1/2" (28-32 cm). Unique shape: Short bill on small head with shoe-button eyes; thin, long neck; long tail and long yellowish legs. Dark brown mottling on back and upper wings, with feathers fringed golden-buff and barred with black; streaked crown with narrow buff median stripe; throat whitish with fine dark streaks becoming larger on lower breast and flanks. Whitish unstreaked belly.
Similar Species- Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Curlews
Calls a mellow, whistled quip-ip-ip-ip. Song, begins with short rattle, continues with weird windy whistles: whoooleeeeee, wheelooooooooo. First slides up in pitch, second slides down.
Breeds locally from Alaska, east through central Canada and Great Lakes region to southern New Brunswick, and south in interior to eastern Washington, northeastern Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, northwestern Oklahoma, Texas, and parts of Midwest and mid-Atlantic states. Winters in South America.
Found in grasslands (especially prairies), dry meadows, pastures, short-grass savannas, plowed fields, fields around airports, and (in Alaska) scattered woodlands at timberline. Found very rarely (in migration) along shores and mudflats. In Idaho, prefers dry grass prairies, and is not tied to wet areas or shores.
Forages on ground. When not breeding, found alone or in small, scattered groups. Has conspicuous habit of whistling while sitting on fence posts. Arrives in Idaho in early May and begins courtship and copulation immediately; engages in high flying as part of courtship. Builds concealed nest in depression on ground in vegetation. Population in Idaho appears restricted to 3 or 4 small colonies.
Both sexes incubate 4 eggs (usually), for 21-24 days (eggs are laid May-June, depending on range). Both parents tend young, which first fly at 30-31 days.
|Status:||Protected nongame species|
Taylor, D.M. and C.H. Trost. 1987. The status of rare birds in Idaho. Murrelet 68:69-93.