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Pectoral sandpiper        Images © Mark A. Chappell

For most of the year, pectoral sandpipers are typical medium-sized shorebirds, feeding quietly on mudflats and wet meadows.   During breeding season they move to the Arctic, where males develop a big throat pouch behind a 'beard' of mottled dark feathers, sharply set off from the white belly.   Courting males fly slowly over the tundra with the pouch inflated to a startling degree, making a haunting hooting call.   Females (immediately below at right) are smaller and lack the big throat patch.   These birds were photographed in several places near Barrow, on the north coast of Alaska.   Winter-plumage birds are on another page.

  • Canon 1D4, 800 mm IS lens with 1.4X converter, most with fill-in flash (2011)