Wandering Tattler

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Common Name: Wandering Tattler
Scientific Name: Heteroscelus incanus

Size: 10¼ - 11¾ inches (26-30cm)

Habitat: North America, South America and Australia; Migration from Alaska and northwest Canada to the southern California coast and beyond, with some birds crossing the Pacific Ocean to spend the winter in Australia and on islands in the South Pacific. Found on rugged, rocky coastlines, jetties, and breakwaters, but during migration may be found on sandy beaches and coastal estuaries.

Status: Least Concern. Global population: 10,000 - 25,000. Although the global population of this species is small, it is widespread and therefore more immune to regional threats. Protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

Diet: Various adult and larval flies, especially caddisflies and crane flies during the breeding season. On wintering grounds, forages by probing among the kelp and rocks of outer coast marine habitat for crustaceans, marine worms, small mollusks and small animals that scramble among the rocks. Occasionally wades in deep water, and may immerse its head completely to catch food.

Nesting: The nest of the Wandering Tattler is located on the ground in a hollow in rocks or gravel, usually near a stream. It is a shallow depression that may or may not be lined with small twigs, rootlets, or leaves. Both parents help incubate. Four olive or green eggs marked with brown are laid. Incubation ranges from 23 to 25 days and is carried out by both parents. Once hatched, the young leave the nest within a day and can feed themselves immediately. Both parents tend the young, although within a week or two, one parent leaves. The remaining parent tends the young until they are independent.

Cool Facts: The name "wandering" refers to its widespread occurrence over vast portions of ocean. "Tattler" refers to its voice; its practice of giving alarm calls when perceived threats are nearby, alerting other shorebirds to the danger. Its call is a series of clear, hollow whistles, all on one pitch. It is believed that hunters named the bird for these calls, which warn other birds of approaching danger.

A group of tattlers are collectively known as a "whisper" of tattlers.

A characteristic bird of the rocky Pacific Coast, they bob and teeter while feeding, and move nervously and quickly over rocks, probing for active prey on the surface. On the breeding grounds, they walk or wade along streams to find food.

Wandering Tattlers are basically solitary birds, on the ground and especially in flight.

Found in Songbird ReMix Shorebirds Volume 3: Small Waders

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