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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Red Knot -- Calidris canutus

RANGE: Breeds in northwestern and northern Alaska and the Canadian Arctic islands east to Ellesmere Island and south to southern Victoria and Southampton Islands. Nonbreeding birds occasionally summer in the wintering range. Winters along the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts from southern California and Massachusetts south to South America.

STATUS: Locally common; once abundant, its numbers were reduced by hunting in the late 19th century.

HABITAT: Inhabits high inland plains, plateaus, and elevated slopes covered with glacial gravel and frost-riven rocks and shales, sometimes several miles from the coast. In migration and in winter, occurs mainly along the coast on exposed mudflats, sand spits, beaches, matted salt marshes, and river deltas.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Barren or stony tundra and dry nesting sites.

NEST: Nests in a shallow depression among dryads, lichens, and other tundra vegetation, rubble, and gravel, and usually on high, dry hills and plateaus.

FOOD: Flies to fresh waters or marine shores from nesting areas up to several miles away to feed during the breeding season. Mainly feeds on the surface, but also probes for food in mud and sand. Eats insects, mollusks, crustaceans, king crab eggs, and some seeds, buds and shoots of grasses, sedges, pondweeds, and bulrushes.

REFERENCES: Bent 1927, Davis in Farrand 1983a, Palmer 1967, Sperry 1940, Terres 1980.

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