The following message appeared on the TXBIRDS list. Thought it would be of interest to those in Missouri searching for shorebirds.

Good Birding,

Kyle Driggers
Liberty, Mo.

Very few southbound juvenile shorebirds from the
> arctic are currently
> migrating through southern Ontario indicating a
> failed nesting season for
> many northern species. For example, at Townsend
> Sewage Lagoons near Lake
> Erie on 8 August, Kevin McLaughlin saw 400-500 adult
> Semipalmated
> Sandpipers and only one juvenile. He saw only  5-6
> juvenile Lesser
> Yellowlegs among 200-300 adults and had few juvenile
> Least Sandpipers.
> Juveniles of all these species should be common by
> now. This spring and
> summer have been exceptionally cold, wet and windy
> in much of northern
> Canada from James Bay to the High Arctic Islands.
> Here are reports from six
> biologists and birders, five of whom were in the
> north this summer.
> 1. Ken Ross, waterfowl and shorebird biologist,
> Canadian Wildlife Service:
> "It looks to me that there has been a general
> failure of breeding
> shorebirds from the Hudson Bay Lowlands north.
> Certainly goose productivity
> was well down along the Hudson Bay coast where it
> was still winter in late
> May. And I have heard that the Arctic was even
> worse. Ken Abraham was
> telling me that shorebirds appeared to be migrating
> earlier than usual in
> the James Bay area, probably reflecting a large
> proportion of failed breeders."
> 2. Ken Abraham, biologist and research scientist
> with the Ontario Ministry
> of Natural Resources (OMNR), studies waterfowl and
> shorebirds around James
> Bay and Hudson Bay: He reports, "Strong indications
> that the extremely late
> year spring (May/June) and cold/wet summer
> (June-July) was indeed a poor
> year for breeding shorebirds. My student Linh Nguyen
> had a fair number of
> Semipalmated Plover nests this year, but a ragged
> nesting season with very
> high egg predation, really asynchronous timing and
> changes in nest density
> among areas, compared to his two previous summers.
> While banding 12-23 July
> we witnessed increasing numbers of Pectoral
> Sandpipers, a few Ruddy
> Turnstones, hundreds of both species of yellowlegs
> and a very early massing
> of Marbled Godwits (in my experience). We had
> Marbled Godwits in flocks
> alone and mixed with Hudsonian Godwits at several
> locations from the
> extreme south end of James Bay (Hannah Bay) up to
> Lake River and including
> Akimiski Island (largest island in James Bay). I
> suspect that Marbled
> Godwit, in particular, had a poor year, but possibly
> so did Hudsonian Godwit."
> Note: isolated James Bay population of Marbled
> Godwits is probably about
> 3000 birds.
> 3. Don Sutherland, zoologist with the Natural
> Heritage Information Centre
> of the OMNR, reported: "My guess is that there was
> widespread nest failure
> of shorebirds and many other arctic-subarctic bird
> species in eastern
> Canada. When we arrived at the Pen Islands
> (Ontario/Manitoba border of
> Hudson Bay) on June 23rd, things really hadn't
> started yet. There was still
> substantial ice on many of the larger lakes, large
> snowdrifts in the lee of
> ridges and spruce copses, hardly a hint of plant
> growth anywhere, and
> several inches of water on the wet tundra. Many of
> the local species
> including the common shorebird species (Stilt
> Sandpiper, Dunlin, Least
> Sandpiper, Wilson's Snipe, Short-billed Dowitcher,
> Hudsonian Godwit,
> Whimbrel, Red-necked Phalarope, American
> Golden-Plover) were displaying,
> but weren't behaving as though they had initiated
> nests. After a few days
> we started flushing more birds from scrapes and
> partial clutches and by the
> time we departed on July 7th there were even some
> clutches starting to
> hatch (e.g., Least Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper). More
> telling though were
> the large flocks of shorebirds present throughout
> the period. These were
> either failed breeders or birds which had just opted
> not to try. Among
> these were substantial mixed flocks of Hudsonian
> Godwits and Short-billed
> Dowitchers (which breed more commonly in the
> taiga-tundra transition) and
> large mixed species aggregations including large
> numbers of Stilt
> Sandpipers (150 in one flock). Many of these flocks
> were concentrated in
> ponds along the coast, but were also present six or
> more kilometres inland.
> Also of interest was the near absence of both
> Semipalmated Plover and
> Semipalmated Sandpiper. These should have been
> present and not uncommon (as
> they have been in other years) on the gravel ridges
> bordering wet tundra
> near the coast, but we saw very few of either and
> found no nests. Other
> species which typically breed further inland (e.g.,
> both yellowlegs and
> Bonaparte's Gulls) were also loafing in ponds near
> the coast. Waterfowl
> also had a poor time of it. Large numbers of scaup
> of both species just
> hanging around and no evidence of breeding even by
> Long-tailed Ducks which
> were just sitting in pairs on ponds. There was a
> total failure of the Snow
> Goose colony and near total failure of locally
> breeding Canada Geese. This
> phenomenon wasn't restricted to the Ontario coast as
> Churchill apparently
> was a bust as were other places in the eastern
> Canadian Arctic. Just one of
> those years!"
> 4. Farther north, Jim Richards of Orono, Ontario,
> spent 27 June - 13 July
> at Cambridge Bay on Victoria Island in Nunavut
> Territory. He reported,
> "That overall numbers of birds present at the end of
> June was down by at
> least 60%. Of those there only a small percentage
> were actually nesting. In
> past years species such as Semipalmated Sandpipers
> were usually found at a
> rate of 4-6 nests per day with normal walking. This
> year I found one nest
> in 16 days! Needless to say, it was very cold, very
> wet and very windy."
> 5. Glenn Coady of Toronto, Ontario, was atlassing in
> the Hudson Bay
> Lowlands and was in contact with other groups in the
> north: He summarized,
> "Discussing shorebird nesting success with all the
> Ontario Hudson Bay atlas
> groups, Mark Peck's experience on Southampton Island
> in Nunavut, Jim
> Richards' experience at Cambridge Bay in Nunavut, as
> well as one of my
> birding friends who was at Churchill this summer, it
> would appear very few
> shorebirds were able to successfully breed in the
> frigid conditions across
> the arctic this summer. Many didn't even attempt to
> nest, and a lot of
> those that did likely failed in the horrific
> windstorms. Jim Richards told
> me that areas he covered at Cambridge Bay that
> normally would have resulted
> in sightings of 70 Semipalmated Sandpipers and 30
> Baird's Sandpipers per
> day, proved this summer to be lucky to find more
> than one or two birds. He
> found only one Semipalmated Sandpiper nest the
> entire trip, and it only had
> a clutch of two eggs. The fact that it also was a
> poor year for small
> mammals (and Canada Geese and Snow Geese failed en
> masse too) in much of
> the arctic meant what few shorebirds that were going
> to nest successfully
> probably encountered heavier than normal predation
> from foxes, jaegers,
> gulls and owls."
> 6. Alvaro Jaramillo of California on 6 August
> reported: "Juvenile
> shorebirds are down here already, but not the main
> push. It seems like a
> lot of the north was suffering from very bad
> weather. Alaska was very cold
> and rainy this season, I hope I am wrong and you
> begin to see a ton of
> juvenile shorebirds, but my guess is that it will be
> a weak year for them."

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