Sanderlings, semipalmated plovers, semipalmated sandpipers, and least plovers huddle together on a small patch of beach, with the waves breaking in the middle distance. Their density in that small 30-square-foot patch of rocky shoreline was amazing. Since some were in breeding plumage and others not, it was likely a mix of resident birds and breeders that had just returned south from Canada or Alaska. Some dozed in the bright morning light, possibly tired from the overnight migration flight. Flocking tightly like this helps the mixed flock avoid predators, as they share the lookout, scanning a full 360 degrees. If isolated, each bird is more vulnerable to predator attack. Flocking also helps them locate the best feeding spots, as one bird calls to the flock upon discovery of a productive tide pool. With multiple birds on a small stretch of beach, a sand flea or small crab that is is injured from one bird is more easily consumed by another. They all work together for the safety and nourishment of the flock.
flying plover circus is an acrylic painted on a 10 x 10-inch wood panel. Along with 27 other originals, it’s for sale now here.