There are a number of reasons why I decided to take on this project. My first reason has to do with my interest in birds. This began shortly after moving to Victoria ten and a half years ago. With our house backing onto a wooded area, the chirping of birds is a familiar sound all year long. I often glance out the window to see birds of all forms in the yard throughout the day. Frequently I will pull out the Birds of Victoria or Birds of North America reference guides we have on hand. Unfortunately, the drawings in the first aren’t overly helpful for identification and the number of entries in the second is overwhelming. My second reason has to do with a photography course I took a number of years ago. Since that time I have been trying to think of a practical reason to buy a new camera. Taking pictures of birds requires a powerful zoom lens which my previous point-and-shoot camera could not accommodate. Perfect! My final reason was my desire to take on a new project to welcome in 2011. Hence, bird of the day was born.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Calidris alba

Small sandpiper
Medium-length, straight, dark bill
Dark legs
White wingstripe bordered in black
Breeding plumage: (no photo)
Rufous head and neck
Rufous wash extending onto back
Non-breeding plumage:
Pale gray head and upperparts
White underparts
Faint, partial gray breast band

Listen to its call. 

I saw this bird running along the tide line at Esquimalt Lagoon beach with a couple of Dunlins last week. The three of them would run up the beach to avoid the waves, then turn and run back down as the waves receded. They were probably just looking for food but they reminded me of playful children enjoying a day at the shore.

Sanderling (left) / Dunlin (right)
Being a student of linguistics, the origin of words always interests me. So, what about Sanderling?  Although I really have no idea of its origin, I have a theory. Sandpiper has been truncated in the middle and the suffix -ling, which is a diminutive modifier, has been added to the noun. So, in essence, its name means that it's a small sandpiper. Isn't linguistics fun?!

Learn more about the Sanderling.

Additional photos:

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