A stocky, thick-necked, sturdy-billed, mid-sized shorebird of coastal areas. Alternate Adult is clean salmon-red over head and underparts with finely streaked auriculars, crown, and sides of breast; highly patterned back feathers have a combination of black and pale rufous centers with whitish edges, wings are gray, undertail coverts are white with sparse black spots, legs are dark green, and black bill is short, straight, heavy at the base, and tapers to blunt tip. Basic Adult is gray overall, finely streaked on breast, with slight dark eyeline and pale supercilium, white underparts with barred flanks. Back, scapular, and covert feathers have paler gray margins creating a scaly look above. Juvenile is similar to Basic Adult with crisp barring on flanks, strong pale supercilium, squat greenish legs, and short straight bill; scapular and wing covert feathers are pale gray, with dark shafts, anchor-shaped subterminal black markings, and whitish fringes, creating a unique feather pattern among North American shorebirds. In flight, tail and rump are pale gray, contrasting with darker gray back and wings.
Length: 27 (cm) Wingspan: 58 (cm)
Low, harsh chup calls; soft whistled notes. Typically quiet.
Beaches, estuaries, mudflats. Breeds on open tundra.
Typically in flocks, sometimes in very large concentrations, often with other shorebirds. Nest is a lined depression on rocky tundra. Atlantic subspecies, which is a long distance migrant, has declined precipitously in recent years, in correlation to the increased harvest of Horseshoe Crabs (see Elizabeth J. Rosenthal's excellent essay on this topic "Help the Delmarva Ornithological Society Help the Red Knot," which was published in our online journal on 29 April 2009).
Probes in sand or mud, or picks food from ground surface; eats a variety of worms, mollusks, aquatic insects, fish, crab eggs, and occasional plant material.
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