Threatened Red Knot Shorebirds Numbers Rebound Due to “Warm Ocean Waters” Increasing Food Source From Horseshoe Crab Eggs

(p. A13) The number of rufa red knot shore birds migrating via Delaware Bay beaches to Arctic breeding sites this spring rose to the highest level in four years, according to an independent annual survey.

The count, by land and boat, tallied about 22,000 of the robin-sized birds, an encouraging sign for a shorebird that is listed as federally threatened. The survey’s figures were the highest since 2019, and a sharp increase from a record low of 6,880 in 2021, according to Larry Niles, an independent biologist. He has been monitoring the migration of the rufa red knot, an Atlantic coast subspecies, on the Delaware Bay for the last quarter century.

Dr. Niles attributed the healthier number to the relatively warm ocean waters that aided in the spawning of horseshoe crabs, whose eggs are a crucial food source for the birds. A week or two of gorging on the crab eggs each May allows the birds to regain weight after long-distance flights from as far away as Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, and to complete their migration, one of the longest in the avian world.

. . .

“I was elated to see 22,000 birds this year,” he said.

For the full story, see:

Jon Hurdle. “More Threatened Red Knot Shorebirds Are Seen on Jersey Shore Beaches.” The New York Times (Thursday, June 15, 2023): A13.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story also has the date June 15, 2023, and has the title “Uptick Seen in Red Knots on Jersey Shore.”)

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