Teetering Spotted Sandpiper at Bear River MBR

/, Birds, Box Elder County, Spotted Sandpipers, Utah/Teetering Spotted Sandpiper at Bear River MBR

Spotted Sandpiper next to the Bear RiverSpotted Sandpiper next to the Bear River – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Yesterday morning was clear, crisp and I felt the need to spend time alone in nature because it soothes me and quite frankly of late I feel I need to be out where the birds are singing instead of watching the news. I headed to Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge because of the wide open spaces, the sounds of the marsh and of course the birds. I reached the off ramp of I-15 just as the rays of the sun started to light up the marshes on the drive out to the auto tour route and it was warm enough to have my window down to hear the calls of the curlews overhead, the chittering of kingbirds and meadowlarks singing their morning songs.

When I reached the beginning of the auto tour route I was surprised that I didn’t see even a single fisherman along the banks of the river. I felt like I had the place to myself and when I reached the end of the auto tour loop I hadn’t seen another vehicle so I guess for a bit I did have it all to myself.

I stopped at the far northwestern tip of the auto tour route to watch some Canada Geese families swimming in the river as Cliff Swallows flew overhead and was entertained by a Red-winged Blackbird dive bombing a male Northern Harrier. I took a few images of the Canada Geese and their goslings and sat savoring the moment when I caught some movement out of the corner of my eye.

The movement and bird that caught my eye was a Spotted Sandpiper teetering  on a rock right next to the water. I adore Spotted Sandpipers so I just had to take images of the butt bouncing bird. Still images can’t capture the teetering but I found a video that shows what they look like when they bounce up and down and it can be seen here.

And you can listen to the song of Spotted Sandpipers below:

I was able to get a few photos of the sandpiper before it flew off due to the interaction of the blackbird and the harrier.

A few Spotted Sandpiper facts:

Female Spotted Sandpipers may mate with up to four males, the males then incubate the eggs she lays and the males raise the young. This is called polyandry. There are exceptions to this where the female mates with only one male and does a little to help raise the young.

Another thing that I find very interesting about Spotted Sandpipers is that the females can store sperm internally for up to one month so the eggs they lay may be fathered by more than one male.

When I left the refuge yesterday I felt refreshed and rejuvenated by my time alone with the birds and the marshes.

Life is good.


I missed seeing Galileo, the Short-eared Owl I helped to rescue, at HawkWatch yesterday but I know I will see him again. That little guy is going to be a great education bird from what I hear.


  1. Anita Cothern Austin May 6, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    Great informative article. I have been aware of Sandpipers since I read the book,
    “The Sandpipers” circa 1965. The book was written from the screenplay of the movie staring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. The Shadow of Your Smile was the song.
    Strange way to learn about a bird that I have watched many times on the shores of Sanibel and Captiva Islands on the Southwest coast of Florida. Watching them dart along the water line, escaping the waves. I think we have shared the experience of quiet solitude. Thanks for the memories.
    Even though my memories are beautiful, I found the technical information about their breeding habits and the ability to fertilize her eggs from several males to be intriguing. A true example of survival of the fittest.

  2. Colleen Crank May 5, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    Interesting! I did not know that interesting tidbit about polyandry.

  3. Elephants Child May 5, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    Nature is an incredible solace on the dark days isn’t it? Yet another reason we need to be doing more to protect it.

  4. Patty Chadwick May 5, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    Just for the record, I value you for your beautiful photos and your poetic prose, but even more for your real (as opposed to alternative)facts, your courage and persistance in standing up for,and defending, what you, I and so many others treasure and believe in…

  5. Bob mcpherson May 5, 2017 at 7:58 am

    Beautiful photos, Mia.

  6. Greg OGDEN Ogden May 5, 2017 at 6:28 am

    Very interesting about the practice called polyandry

  7. Liz Cormack May 5, 2017 at 5:41 am

    I learn something new every day……didn’t know that about female Spotted Sandpipers. Thanks for the info.

  8. pennypinchadventure Tim Traver May 5, 2017 at 5:15 am

    Thank you Mia for sharing your love, art and birds from your places — far from here. The rapid rush of shorebirds heading north will soon be upon us and some stay.
    Spotted sandpipers nest along our river. Your photos give a little preview of what’s to come. Thank you.

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