Northern Pintails display their prowess in the water, above.

And in the air:

The longer I watch birds the more I am impressed with their abilities. Although most species are specialized to take advantage of food resources in particular habitats, they are often able to exploit other, unusual opportunities as they arise. I think of ducks as being among these. They both swim and fly with ease, ranging widely as conditions change to find food and safety.

Birds like European Starlings and crows, among others, are generalists. Starlings, for example, might specialize in extracting insect larvae from under the ground, but they will also join sandpipers on mudflats, searching for invertebrates when the tide is out.

These sandpipers, or waders, are often very specialized in their feeding and habitat requirements. They are under severe pressure across the globe from human activities, and sadly, many populations are declining rapidly.

A number of sandpiper species winter in western Washington. The most numerous, by far, is the Dunlin, which can still be seen in the tens of thousands in some places:

Others, like these Greater Yellowlegs, are fairly common in appropriate habitat but occur in much lower numbers:

It’s the same story with these Long-billed Dowitchers (what a name!):

As I walk along observing these birds, I meet a more familiar bird on the grassy embankment. An American Robin far from the cover of the trees, shrubs, and glades it usually frequents:

I wonder sometimes about the prospects of even this most adaptable species as we stumble into the future we have created.

Thanks for reading, and may you be well.


  1. Another birder and I were lamenting yesterday how development creep keeps shrinking habitat for birds and other wildlife. This planet is not ours alone. Good post and terrific photos!

    Liked by 1 person

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