Red Knot (Calidris canutus)

Another of the great flyers, the red knots' migration may take it up to 32, 000 km a year!

Description

The red knot is a medium-sized shorebird, measuring 25-28 cm in length- about the size of a blue jay. The sexes look alike, but males are slightly larger than females. In winter, red knots assume the drab plumage that is typical of sandpipers- pale grey upper parts, head, and breast, with a white throat, flanks, and underparts. In the breeding season, they become more colourful, with a reddish head, unstriped, rusty-red underparts, and upper parts dappled brown and grey, with white edges to their feathers giving a slightly scaly appearance.

Distribution

These reclusive birds reproduce only in the High Arctic. The red knot is a long-distance migrant, flying from the High Arctic to as far south as Tierra del Fuego, Argentina in the fall. Flocks of this species frequently stop over along the North American coast, and on the Great Lakes, to build up body fat for the long flight south.

Ecology

Scattered pairs building nests among pebbles on rocky ground, usually where lichens grow. The red knot is primarily a predator on marine and freshwater invertebrates, in particular aquatic insects, small mollusks and various kinds of worms. It also occasionally eats seeds.

When feeding, the red knot uses its long, thick bill to pick food items from the ground. It also probes the substrate with its bill. The red knot often forms mixed-species flocks with other shorebirds. Common feeding companions in some areas are dowitchers, with which it shares sandy shorelines and mud flats.