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Wandering Tattler

Heteroscelus incanus ORDER: CHARADRIIFORMES FAMILY: SCOLOPACIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A characteristic bird of the rocky Pacific Coast, the Wandering Tattler can be seen bobbing and teetering among the rocks and waves during winter and migration. Some individuals spend the summer along the southern part of the range rather than go with the rest of the birds to their breeding grounds in the mountains of Alaska and northwestern Canada.

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Appearance

Shorebirds
Shorebirds
Typical Voice

Adult Description

  • Medium-sized shorebird.
  • Short, thick yellow legs.
  • Moderately long, straight bill.
  • Gray all over.
  • Belly white.
  • Short white eyestripe.
  • Constantly bobs its tail and rear end up and down as it walks.
  • Entire underside heavily barred in breeding plumage.
  • Plain gray wings and tail.

Immature Description

Similar to nonbreeding adult, but gray breast and flanks faintly smudged and barred, and back feathers with some whitish tips.

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Similar Species

  • Black Turnstone and Surfbird live in same rocky intertidal environment, but the Wandering Tattler is differently shaped, is unmarked in flight, and bobs its tail.
  • Spotted Sandpiper also bobs tail constantly, but is smaller, brown, and has a short white wingstripe.
  • Stilt Sandpiper in breeding plumage is heavily barred below, but it has long, thing greenish legs, a slightly drooping bill, and does not occur in the same habitat, prefering shallow ponds and mudflats.