The Red Knot is
unmistakable in its summer plumage, with robin-red coloring on its face and
underparts, but is quite plain in its winter plumage (see photo to the right).
They were once one of the most common of North American shorebirds, but they
were slaughtered by the thousands during the 1800's. They are
relatively rare migrants on the interior of the continent.
Habitat: Nests on the Arctic Tundra.
In migration and in winter, they are most often found on coastal and other
mudflats, as well as occasionally being found on sandy beaches.
Diet: Feeds primarily on insects and
insect larvae on it's summer breeding grounds, along with seeds, leaves, and
fresh buds. In winter and in migration, feeds heavily on small mollusks,
crustaceans, and marine worms.
Behavior: Forages by walking on mudflats, beaches,
or shallow water. Food items are often obtained by probing in the mud
with their bill, but they also will pick up food items from the water
surface or ground.
Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota
Song: Generally silent, but
feeding birds and those in flight may utter a harsh krut.
Migration: Summers throughout the high Arctic. Some winter on
U.S. coastlines, but many more migrate to southern South America, some to
Australia, and still others may winter in Europe. Most migrate along the
Atlantic coast, with only small numbers migrating inland.
Similar Species: Curlew Sandpiper (not found in South Dakota), Sanderling
Conservation Status: Hunting in the 1800's killed
very large numbers of these birds, and numbers have never recovered to
historical levels. In addition, the species has seen steepdeclines since the 1960's. This is probably due
to over harvesting of Horseshoe Crabs on key staging areas for Red Knots in
migration. They depend heavily on nutrient rich Horseshoe Crab eggs during
migration, and suffer if that food source isn't as readily available.
Cornell University's "All About Birds - Red Knot"
-- Red Knot
Photo Information: Photo courtesy of Nicole Bouglouan.