Podcast

Have You Ever Heard a Sandpiper Sing?

The name "sandpiper" actually comes from the voices of these birds, which are surprisingly musical. Listen.

This audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of the National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide.

Transcript:

This is BirdNote!

The musical, wren-like song you just heard is that of a Lesser Yellowlegs, a type of sandpiper. We know Lesser Yellowlegs and other sandpipers for their busy foraging on mudflats and at the ocean’s edge—but perhaps not for their singing.

Now, picture this bird, in its nesting territory in Alaska, sitting atop a spruce tree. That’s right—a sandpiper perched at the top of a tree like our backyard robins—singing its caroling song.

The name “sandpiper” actually comes from the birds’ voices, rather than from their long-billed probing in the sand. While the name refers in particular to the birds’ short “piped" or whistled calls, a number of sandpipers are also superior, and surprising, singers. Listen to this Dunlin as it sings in flight over its nesting territory in the Alaskan tundra.

And this eerie hooting, which might conjure up the image of an owl at night, is actually the song of a Pectoral Sandpiper, singing on the tundra well north of the Arctic Circle.

You can hear these sandpipers again, and see photos, when you come to our website, birdnote.org. I’m Mary McCann.

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Credits:

Bird Sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Lesser Yellowlegs recorded by G.A. Keller. Dunlin recorded by A.A. Allen and P.P. Kellogg. Pectoral Sandpiper display flight recorded by W.W.H. Gunn.

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Chris Peterson

Narrator:  Mary McCann

Written by Bob Sundstrom

© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org     May 2018

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