Surfbird

Calidris virgata

Order

CHARADRIIFORMES

Family

Sandpipers, Phalaropes (Scolopacidae)

Code 4

SURF

Code 6

APHVIR

ITIS

ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The Surfbird is a small wader which is classified in its own genus. The preferred breeding habitat of this species includes rocky ground in Alaska and the Yukon. Each year, the female will lay 4 eggs in a nest scraped in the ground. Young birds feed themselves and eat insects and invertebrates. During winter months, the Surfbird will fly south to Pacific coasts of North America and South America, including southern Alaska and Tierra del Fuego. Diets usually consist of insects and seeds, but may dine on mollusks and crustaceans during the winter. The conservation rating for the Surfbird is Least Concern.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Surfbird: Medium sandpiper, dark gray upperparts marked with rufous, white rump, white underparts marked with distinct black chevrons. Upper breast, head, neck are heavily streaked. Wings are dark with bold white stripes visible in flight. Tail is white with a black triangular tip visible in flight.

 

Range and Habitat

Surfbird: This species breeds in rocky mountain tundra habitats throughout much of Alaska and the western Yukon Territory. Outside of its breeding season, it can be found on rocky shores along most of the Pacific coast, from southeastern Alaska and British Columbia south to Tierra del Fuego in southern Chile.

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Surfbird SONGS AND CALLS

Surfbird A1

Harsh calls from a large flock.

Surfbird C1

Squeaky "tew-it" and "krree" calls from a small group of birds.

Similar Sounding


Voice Text

"kee-wee", "tee-tee-teet", "krrree-krrree", "tew-tew"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • The Surfbird is usually classified in a genus of its own, as Aphriza virgata, but recent data suggests it is very close genetically to the Red and Great Knots and should be included in Calidris genus. Indeed, the Great Knot looks similar to a larger, longer-billed, somewhat darker surfbird.
  • The USS Surfbird (AM-383) is one of 173 Auk Class minesweepers built during World War II for service in the United States Navy. She was eventually decommissioned and sold. Renamed the Helenka B, she was involved in the March 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill clean up.
  • They remain on the nest until the last moment, and then fly up in the intruding animal's face, a defense mechanism used on humans as well.
  • A group of surfbirds are collectively known as a "board" and a "kahuna" of surfbirds.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP NORTH AMERICA

About this North America Map

This map shows how this species is distributed across North America.

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

Yury Lisyak

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

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UnderpartsX

Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

UpperpartsX
Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
BreastX
The upper front part of a bird.
RumpX
The area between the uppertail coverts and the back of the bird.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X