Champions of the Flyway!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Distal rhynchokinesis in Purple Sandpipers

Out on the Brigg as high tide approached and with the ever-decreasing rocky outcrop and its waders to myself, a Purple Sandpiper was particularly accommodating (more of in the next post); so much so that it required my crawling backwards to reach the minimum focus distance on the camera before firing off a few shots.

One of which shows the bird displaying a peculiar phenomenon known as distal rhynchokinesis - the ability to manipulate or 'bend' the upper mandible, usually for feeding purposes (although in this case a yawn seemed to be the best explanation). More here, and if anyone has more to share on the subject, I'd be interested to hear.