As with many other breeding shorebirds in Churchill, Least Sandpipers on the breeding grounds behave very differently than how most of us think of them. This adult Least Sandpiper is sitting atop a small larch as it yells at me, trying to get me away from its nest.
Adult Least Sandpiper sitting on its nest. Their cryptic plumage and their nest placement provides good concealment from predators.
Least Sandpiper nest. A full clutch typically consists of four eggs. Note my foot in the corner of the lower picture for a sense of scale... they are very tiny nests. Nests tend to be quite well concealed under a small clump of sedge or a small shrub (usually birch).
Recently hatched Least Sandpiper chicks.
Least Sandpiper at fledging. This individual was able to fly about 10 feet at at time. Note the juvenile-type plumage of the back and coverts, but the retained fuzzy head and short primaries. In addition, this bird was still making "peeping" noises and an adult was still nearby.
This recently fledged Least Sandpiper was really neat, because in all aspects it looked like an average juvenile Least Sandpiper, except it still retained some down on the head. This bird was fully capable of flying, and had the normal call of Least Sandpipers.
After fledging completely, and losing all of their fluffiness, juvenile Least Sandpipers begin to move. This juvenile Least Sandpiper was photographed at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (photo by Corey Finger)