Monday, July 9, 2012

Please Give Half a Hand...

To the Semipalmated Sandpiper! I'm nearing the end of my beach posts. Since this is the second to last one, the semifinals, if you will, it seems only fitting that the Semipalmated Sandpiper is the featured bird. Usually when I get to show a new bird on the blog, a bird that's never been featured before, I try to accompany it with some sort of unique facts or, best of all, SUPERLATIVES of the species, e.g. "largest of the..."; "northernmost breeding..."; "most colorful nostrils..."; "most likely to become president."

I'm ashamed to say it, but coming up with some accurate superlatives for the Semipalmated Sandpiper is difficult. They've got some color and some intricate plumage but not too much. They're small but not the smallest, shy but not the shyest, and semi-palmed but not the semi-palmiest. What I noticed and appreciated most about these birds on the Jersey beach was how they acted like a cement of sorts, sticking the different bird groups together.

Seeing cosmopolitan groups of shorebirds on the beach is by no means unusual, but during my very brief experience on the Jersey shore, the Semipalmated Sandpiper was the common denominator in all of the groups. Whether they were tuning in with the Turnstones or playing with the Purple Sandpipers, partying with the Plovers or even gaming with the Gulls, the Semipalms were always mingling and mixing it up on the beach, making sure everyone felt comfortable at the party. A lot of the big and colorful beach birds bring attitudes with them. The Semipalmated Sandpiper is a chill bird, an essential thread of the beach bird social fabric.

So here's to you, Semipalmated Sandpiper, for helping to hold everybody together.