Red KnotCalidris canutus (Linnaeus)
Status Fairly common transient, rare in winter. It is an uncommon to rare spring migrant from mid-April through May (earliest 17 April, latest 8 June; a bird on Sable Island on 2 April 1972 was abnormally early). It is much more common as a fall migrant, first appearing in July (average 16 July, earliest 6 July), most frequent in August and September, with stragglers to year's end. There are a few reports for late January and February, including about 100 on Sable Island on 30 January 1978, indicating occasional attempts to winter here, especially in the southwest of the province.
Description Length: 25-28 cm. Adults in spring: Above finely mottled with grays, black and light ochre, running into stripes on crown; throat, breast and sides of head cinnamon-brown; dark gray line through eye; abdomen and undertail coverts white; uppertail coverts white, barred with black. Adults in winter: Pale ashy gray above, from crown to rump, with feathers on back narrowly edged with white; underparts white, the breast lightly streaked and speckled, and the flanks narrowly barred with gray. Adults in autumn: Underparts of some individuals show traces of the "red" of spring.
Range Breeds on arctic islands in both the New and Old Worlds. In the New World, it winters in coastal regions from California and Massachusetts, south to Chile and Argentina.
Remarks The Red Knot is a medium-sized, rather short-legged and chunky sandpiper. Look for it on sand beaches with adjacent mudflats, where it feeds, and on low-lying meadows after the hay has been cut. Small flocks frequently consort with larger flocks of Black-bellied Plover on the meadows at Grand Pre, Kings County.
In the old days when shorebird shooting was legal, the Red Knot was highly regarded as a table bird; and because the flocks, in close formation, came readily to decoys, its numbers were alarmingly reduced. Much of the shooting in those days was done during spring migration, particularly in the United States. Although the species has recovered somewhat under protective legislation, which came late, it is no longer abundant in our region.
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