? ...check on what's NEW!
General Info Species Festivals Voice Gallery Bibliography  Quiz 
What are shorebirds?
Shorebirds, or waders, are not simply birds found at the shore, but are the families of plovers, sandpipers and related forms that are part of the order Charadriiformes. Most of these birds can be found along shorelines, especially in migration, but they are also found inland, upland, on arctic tundra or at sea. They are related to gulls, terns and auks, also Charadriiformes.
One of the many attractions of shorebirds is the long-distance migration of species such as American Golden-Plover (Pluvialis dominica) between the high arctic and southern South America. Equally evocative are the calls of curlews and godwits, often unseen phantoms of the air.
When one gains experience in watching shorebirds, another appeal is the challenge often present in their identification and the excitement of finding the rare wanderer. Shorebirds vary from the boldly patterned like avocets and stilts to the subtlety of small Calidrid sandpipers (peeps or stints) with plumage variation by season and age. Identification has become an intense study and there are now many books able to assist those drawn to the challenge. Newer field guides will assist, but the most standard work today is Shorebirds of the World, by Hayman, Marchant and Prater (1986) which is a comprehensive study with detailed plates of illustrations and species descriptions. I find a valuable companion is Shorebirds of the Pacific Northwest, by Paulson (1993) which has excellent photos of the species in different plumages and a good introduction, including drawings of feather markings, wing and tail details and silhouettes. The species are not world-wide, but even across the continent in Ohio, I find it very helpful and the photos a good companion to the illustrations in other books.
Lapwing Because shorebirds can be handsome creatures and because they provide indentification challenges, we have been accumulating photo links on the web at the International Shorebird Gallery.
Shorebirds are appealing also because the shore is a natural attraction to us. This habitat in its many variations is often threatened, and so shorebird watching is closely related to wetland conservation. In our links below are organizations and programs that are involved specifically with shorebirds or their habitat. Shorebird watchers around the world provide much of the data and time needed to learn the needs of these birds and assist in their protection.

For more references, see our Shorebird Bibliography.

For a world checklist of shorebird species, see Robert B. Hole, Jr.'s Birds of the World on the Web Project.

Black-necked Stilt New

Shorebird News and Links

Please help track the spring migration
of red knots.
Report spring migrant Red Knots

Recent data from Delaware Bay and Tierra del Fuego suggest that in 2003 red knots, and possibly ruddy turnstones, altered their typical migration pattern. Because of the nearly-complete failure of horseshoe crab spawning in May 2003, a large proportion of red knots did not stop on the Delaware Bay or stayed for a shorter period. If this trend continues in 2004, we would expect to see knots at other stopover sites, particularly in mid-Atlantic, New England states. However, because we have not observed this phenomenon in the recent past, we are requesting assistance from observers along the entire east coast of the US and James Bay, Canada

Observers can assist our efforts by reporting any and all red knot sightings, particularly during May and early June. Estimates of flock size and composition are appreciated as well as color-band combinations from marked red knots. Please also provide a detailed description of the sighting location. Please note that in 2003 we began using a lime green flag with engraved alpha-numeric characters (2 characters for 2003, 3 characters for 2004).

Please report any sightings of individuals and flocks of red knots to:
Mike Shanahan - mikejs96@att.net     OR     Mandy Dey - Amanda.dey@dep.state.nj.us.

They sincerely appreciate your assistance.

update on 24 Apr 2004

Shorebirds by Des Thompson and Ingvar Byrkjesdal Our view on the latest publication:
Shorebirds by Des Thompson and Ingvar Byrkjedal. Voyager Press, Inc., 10 Oct 2001, 72 pgs., $16.95US

This slender book, the latest in Voyager Press' WoldLife Library series, provides a concise introduction to this remarkable group of birds from the authors of the outstanding Tundra Plovers. Though classified as "juvenile", the information it contains is relevant to anyone interested in shorebirds. Beginning with a description of shorebird taxonomy based on the latest DNA findings of Charles Sibley and Jon Ahlquist, the book then describes what shorebirds look like, relates their incredible migration schemes, discusses breeding and social behavior, feeding habits and conservation concerns. The largely non-technical text is easy to read and the 50 excellent color plates are well placed to illustrate points in the text. A full list of all shorebirds of the world and a list of extinct or endangered species is included. We especially recommend this book to the novice shorebirder.

Report Banded Golden and Black-bellied Plovers

Researchers Dr. Wally Johnson, Phillip Bruner and Robert Gill have banded Pacific and American Golden-Plovers (Pluvialis fulva and P. dominica) and Black-bellied Plovers (P. squatarola) in the Pacific and in Alaska. Please report any observations of these banded plovers to them.
  (Please note color and placement of the bands!)

update on 2 Aug 2000

Get Details

More on reporting banded shorebirds

Shorebirds on tap again this year:

Explore South Beach & North Monomoy on
Cape Cod in Massachusetts
with the


Includes the full shorebird quiz.

new on 28 Jul 2000

Report of Banded Bar-tailed Godwits in Alaska
Bob Gill and Brian McCaffery report birds banded in Australia and New Zealand

update on Sep 17, 1999

Bar-tailed Godwit

All new . . . don't miss "The Shorebird Watcher" Shorebird Photo Quiz!
Photos from Australia (Tom & Marie Tarrant) and North America (Costa Rica to Barrow, Alaska from Dick & Jean Hoffman).

(or the non-interactive version)

update on August 27, 1997

VOICE Often overlooked, the voices of shorebirds are varied, sometimes the best way to separate similar species or even the only way to know of the presence of migrating birds.

There are growing resources on the web and information about other recordings.

update on August 6, 1997

Delaware Bay - Horseshoe Crabs - Shorebirds
Delaware Bay provides some of North America's premier habitat for migratory shorebirds and in May the spawning of thousands of Horseshoe Crabs enables thousands of shorebirds to feed on the rich source of their eggs with a spectacular concentration resulting. Like many other natural wonders, this one is highly troubled. update on May 31/Aug 6, 1997
General SHOREBIRD links

WHSRN MENU: Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, a program of Manomet Observatory for Conservation Sciences in partnership with Wetlands International - the Americas

Shorebird Sister Schools Program"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service presents the Shorebird Sister Schools Program. The program allows students, teachers, and parents to track Arctic nesting shorebirds to their nesting grounds in Alaska and Canada. Cruise the super shorebird highway on the internet and study shorebird stop-over locations, shorebird ecology, and the concept of migration." All with a great slide show of shorebird photos!
     SSSP Shorebird Factsheet

Shiokawa Tidalflat Home Page The Shiokawa tidalflat is one of the representative wader-watching sites in JAPAN. Land area is about 280ha and it is surrounded by wet fields (rice), dry fields (cabbage), pond (unused fishing pond), marsh (unused industrial area). Various habitats support many kinds of birds. Includes maps and data of shorebird migration in the western Pacific

Australasian Wader Study Group (AWSG) was formed in 1981 to coordinate and focus studies on waders, or shorebirds. Members receive the journal The Stilt and the quarterly newsletter The Tattler, plus the opportunity to participate in expeditions and cooperative projects. This is a Special Interest Group of Birds Australia/RAOU.
Queensland Wader Study Group, a special interest group of the Queensland Ornithological Society, Inc. The group was formed in 1992 to further research on both migratory and resident waders (shorebirds) in Queensland, and to work for their conservation.
Victorian Wader Study Group, working since 1975 on their primary objective of conducting a long-term comprehensive study of waders and terns throughout Victoria.
The International Wader Study Group (IWSG) is an association of amateurs and professionals from all parts of the world interested in Charadrii (waders and shorebirds).
Western Atlantic Shorebird Association - first research project is the International Banding Project which is colour-banding Red Knots (Calidris canutus rufa), Sanderlings (Calidris alba) and Ruddy Turnstones (Arenaria interpres) along the Atlantic coast of the Americas in an effort to establish their migratory strategies.

SHOREBIRD links by Species
I have followed the taxonomy of Hayman, Marchant and Prater (Shorebirds, an Identification Guide. 1986) with current AOU taxonomy where species differ.

Fact Sheets, Banding Studies, Recovery Plans and more

Crab Plover Black Stilt Bush Thick-knee Beach Thick-knee
Northern Lapwing Pacific Golden-Plover American Golden-Plover Black-bellied (Gray) Plover
Kentish (Snowy) Plover Piping Plover Mountain Plover Hooded Plover
Shore Plover Eskimo Curlew Bristle-thighed Curlew Far Eastern Curlew
Wilson's Phalarope Red Phalarope Western Sandpiper Dunlin
Buff-breasted Sandpiper Ruff

PLUS links to Distribution in North America
Breeding Bird Survey Maps, Trends, Alaskan Maps
Christmas Bird Count Maps

Festivals, Workshops & Field Trips
From Kachemak Bay to Cape May
Make Your Plans Now!

Thanks for the visit.

  Top     New     Info   Species Festivals Voice Gallery Bibliography  Quiz 

[Birding from the North Coast]
This page accessed times.
URL: http://pw1.netcom.com/~djhoff/shorebrd.html
Send mail to: Dick & Jean Hoffman at djhoff@ix.netcom.com

Changes last made on: 27 Nov 2002

Lapwing The
web site at