The Least Sandpiper, Calidris minutilla, is the smallest shorebird in the world, weighing in at 20-30 grams, a maximum of 1 oz. It is dwarfed by a nearby mallard:
I stumbled on these sandpipers on Monhegan Island, a perfect speck of land 12 miles off the coast of Maine in the North Atlantic.
Least Sandpipers breed in the sub-arctic Canadian tundra, then stop off here to recharge their batteries before embarking on a heroic nonstop transoceanic migration of 3,000 to 4,000 km to their wintering grounds in northeastern South America.
This group of about six..
was having a morning wash and brush-up:
Notice their greenish legs, the only sandpiper with legs that color. I think these were juveniles, who migrate later than adults: by now the adults are arriving in South America.
They eat amphipods, especially the mud shrimp, Corophium volutator, which makes up to 88% of their diet in the Bay of Fundy. (Photo from Aphotomarine)
They wade around as the tide goes out, searching for these amuse-bouches:
Soon they will take off for southern climes, only to make the return journey again next spring.
* Collectively, tiny shorebirds are sometimes rather charmingly called “peeps”, hence my title.