THE SANDERLING.
(Calidris arenaria.)

By the beach border, where the breeze
Comes freighted from the briny seas,
By sandy bar and weedy rock
I frequent meet thy roving flock;
Now hovering o'er the bending sedge,
Nor gather'd at the ocean edge;
Probing the sand for shrimps and shells,
Or worms marine in hidden cells.
— Isaac McClellan.

This little shore or beach bird is sometimes called the White or Surf Snipe, and the Ruddy Plover. It breeds only in the colder portions of the northern hemisphere and migrates southward, even beyond the equator where it makes its home during the winter months. It frequents chiefly those regions near the surf-beaten shores of the oceans. It is also a common visitor to the beaches of larger inland waters. On these shores its beautiful form and habits are very noticeable. It walks and runs in a dignified and graceful manner as it chases the receding water searching for its food.

The pure white of the plumage of the under parts of the bird is a striking characteristic as they reflect the sunlight during flight. It is a silent bird and it sometimes appears alone, though it is usually seen in flocks and is frequently associated with other species of the snipe family. Regarding its habits, some one has said: "When feeding along the extreme verge of the ocean it is pleasant to watch its active movements when advancing or retreating with the influx of the sea. It is naturally very unwary and regards man with less suspicion than most of our snipes. When a flock is fired into, those which survive rise with a low whistling note, perform a few evolutions and presently resume their occupation with as much confidence as previously exhibited."

     

The feet of the Sanderling are unlike the other members of its family, being without a fourth toe, entirely divided and without a membrane. This indicates that it frequents firm surfaces and that it is fitted for running and walking upon the long, shelving beaches over which the tides and surf roll, leaving an abundance of its particular food.

The nest of the Sanderling, rudely constructed of dried grass and decayed leaves, is placed in a depression in the ground so situated as to be protected by the natural vegetation of the region. The eggs, usually three or four in number, have an ashy or greenish brown ground color and are finely spotted with different shades of brown.

The food of the Sanderling consists mainly of sea worms, small bivalve shells and crustaceans, though it will also eat buds and insects. It would seem as if its hunger was never satiated — always busy, always moving. These expressions describe its habits, as with its fellows and the other snipes with which it associates, it seeks its food in the wake of the retreating wave and turning, runs before the incoming water which seldom engulfs it.

For those who are so fortunate as to be located near the feeding grounds there can be no more interesting recreation than to sit on the beach and watch the peculiar antics of these delicate creatures. Frequently, without an apparent reason an entire flock will rise as if in answer to a signal and, after executing a few turns alight, and again resume the occupation it had left.


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