Red Knot

Calidris canutus

Red Knots are irregular breeders along the north coast of Alaska. The vast majority of the North American breeders occur in arctic central Canada and northern Greenland. Nevertheless Red Knots are a casual vagrant to the Pribilofs, occurring at a rate of one out of every three or four years. All Pribilof records are from fall, with dates ranging from July 21 to September 25. A few southbound adults, complete with a few scattered brick red breast feathers have been seen, but most of the sightings are of juveniles. Red Knots will stand out against flocks of Rock Sandpipers (which they often associate with in the Salt Lagoon or along Kelp racklines). Knots are larger, shorter and darker legged, and possess pale gray upperparts, a white supercilium and a short and thick-based all black bill. Possible species of confusion would include Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper and Great Knot, all of which can also occur in fall. Both Dunlin and Curlew Sandpipers are smaller, with much longer and thinner slightly drooped bills and some buffy to brown tones on the breast or scapulars. Great Knot juveniles should have pale legs, black spotting on the breast and dark centered back and scapular feathers. Fall is the best time for shorebird diversity and virtually every day from mid July through late September large numbers of shorebirds congregate near the road and on the flats of the Salt Lagoon. It is in these throngs of Rock Sandpipers and Ruddy Turnstones that vagrants such as Red Knot should be regularly searched for.