Red-necked Stint

Calidris ruficollis

This attractive old-word peep is rare in spring and uncommon in fall. Spring records fall mainly within the period pf the last two weeks in May and first week of June. Fall records are of mainly juveniles, and often involve multiple birds. There are also a few mid-summer records of molting adults, which are likely either failed breeders or individuals undergoing some post-breeding dispersal. Only the Little Stint approaches this species in breeding plumage. To separate these two species look for a red throat, and black speckling that falls mainly on the white underparts (Little Stint has a white throat, and black speckling mainly in the red breast). Juveniles are similar to the other small black legged peeps (Little Stint, Western Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper). The fist decision to make when faced by a confusing black-legged peep is “Why is this not a Western?” Look for the relatively long, often slightly drooped bill, streaked nape and crown and reddish scapulars and tertials of Western Sandpiper. If these features do not seem to fit then things get a bit more difficult. Of the three remaining species Red-necked Stint is the most regular. Most juvenile Semipalmated Sandpipers are fairly dull above, lacking strong rufous tones to the upperparts. If the bird has rufous tones then look at the bill, which is typically thin and pointed in Little, and blunt in Red-necked Stint. Look also for Red-necked Stints mainly grayish wing coverts and dull reddish tertials (both of which are brighter in Little), usually dull mantle braces (often bright in Little), and vaguely split supercilium (usually boldly split in Little). Red-necked Stints juveniles also have relatively dull grayish centered wing coverts, which are boldly dark centered in Little Stint. The Pribilofs represent one of the few places in the world where both the old-world and new-world peeps overlap regularly, so the separation of these confusing species can provide endless hours of enjoyment in the month of August. It is worth noting that the very unlikely, but possible Spoon-billed Sandpiper has occurred on Saint Paul in fall and that the spatulate bill can be difficult to see unless the bird is facing directly towards the viewer.