Print

Print


We are invited to join the discussion whether the bird at EBCA is a Reeve or Pectoral Sandpiper. 

I have seen several Ruffs, but I have never knowingly seen a Reeve, so I can only go by the books. Photos of male Ruffs in changing plumage, like the one being seen now at Cheyenne Bottoms, KS, might also be helpful. See  http://ksbirds.org/gallery/Ruff.htm. Unfortunately, the Gerhardt photos, though photographically excellent, have quite a few strikes against their use as evidence that the bird is a Reeve. The legs are mostly obscured by water. What you can see of the legs lacks the diagnostic orange color that most Reeves have. (A few Ruffs/Reeves evidently have greenish legs like this one). Size, whether of the bill or of the entire bird, is difficult to tell in a photo. The breast of the bird is not visible, so that part is unavailable to rule out Pectoral Sandpiper. The Ruff/Reeve's unique "U" on the upper tail coverts is not visible because the bird is not in flight.

In short, all of the marks that might make the identification easy for a person of my limited first hand experience of Ruffs/Reeves are missing from these photos.

We are left to try to identify the bird from bill shape and color, the eye ring, body proportions and dorsal plumage characteristics.

Based on the characteristics visible in the Gerhardt photo, the bird looks more like a Pectoral Sandpiper to me than what I expect a Reeve to look like.

To a person of my limited expertise, the bill could belong to either a Pec. or to a Reeve. "Bare parts", especially the coloration thereof, are notoriously unreliable for diagnosis. Pecs. have a yellow base to their bills, like this bird. Is there too much yellow for the bird to be a Pec.?  Who is to say?  (Not me). 

Is the suggestion of an eye ring diagnostic? The Kansas Ruff has dramatic eye crescents.This bird appears to have a light ring around the eye quite similar to the those shown on the photos of Pecs. on page 173 of Stokes Field Guide to Birds. The bill shape and color also resemble those in the Stokes photos. 

Compare the Gerhardt photos with the Ruff/Reeve illustrations on page 189 of Sibley. At this time of year, the bird should be starting to moult into the adult breeding plumage. This bird's plumage looks neither like that of the non-breeding adult male, nor like the breeding plumage of the adult female, nor like anything in between. Nor does it appear to be moulting between the juvenile plumage and the adult female plumage. It does not appear to be moulting at all. The plumage does look a lot like that of a Pectoral Sandpiper.

The proportions of the bird seem more like those of a Pec. than those of the male Ruff at http://ksbirds.org/gallery/Ruff.htm. 
That male Ruff appears to be a longer-necked bird with a relatively smaller head than a Pec. I assume (perhaps erroneously) that a Reeve, though 20% smaller, has proportions similar to those of the male. If so, the bird's neck should be much longer and its head should be much smaller. See also the Ruff photos on page 178 of Stokes.

Bottom line: It may be a Reeve, but you cannot prove it to someone with my level of expertise without photos that show more definitve marks. I would like to see a photo that displays the length of the legs and the overall proportions of the bird.
In the alternative, a photo that shows the upper tail coverts would be helpful.

If I were on the MBRC, and the Merkord and Gerhardt photos were all we had, I would want to send the photos to experts before using them to vote to accept a Reeve record.

(I have not seen the written descriptions).


Bob Fisher
Independence, Missouri

__________________________________________________
*        Audubon Society of Missouri's           *
*         Wild Bird Discussion Forum             *
*------------------------------------------------*
* To unsubscribe send the message                *
*    SIGNOFF MOBIRDS-L                           *
* to [log in to unmask]                    *
* To subscribe send the message                  *
* SUBSCRIBE MOBIRDS-L your name                  *
* to [log in to unmask]                    *
*------------------------------------------------*
* To access the list archives from July 2002 on: *
* http://po.missouri.edu/archives/mobirds-l.html *
*                                                *
* To access the Audubon Society of Missouri Web  *
* Site:  http://www.mobirds.org                  *
##################################################
[log in to unmask]