From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ” The purple sandpiper (Calidris maritima) is a small shorebird. The genus name is from Ancient Greek kalidris or skalidris, a term used by Aristotle for some grey-colored waterside birds. The specific maritima is from Latin and means “of the sea,” from mare, “sea.”
Adults have short yellow legs and a medium thin dark bill with a yellow base. The body is dark on top with a slight purplish gloss and mainly white underneath. The breast is smeared with grey, and the rump is black. They measure 20–22 cm (7.9–8.7 in) in length and 42–46 cm (17–18 in) across the wings, and weight is from 50–105 g (1.8–3.7 oz)
Their breeding habitat is the northern tundra on Arctic islands in Canada and coastal areas in Greenland and northwestern Europe. They nest on the ground either elevated on rocks or in a lower damp location. The males make several scrapes; the female chooses one and lays 3 or 4 eggs. The male takes the primary responsibility for incubation and tends the chicks. The young feed themselves.
They are late migrants and move to rocky ice-free Atlantic coasts in winter. Most go no further south than North Carolina and northern Portugal. They are relatively gregarious, forming small flocks, often with ruddy turnstones. This species is tame and approachable.
These birds forage on rocky coasts, picking up food by sight. They mainly eat arthropods and mollusks, also some plant material.”
Although their status is that of a least concerned species, however, the number of individuals cited has been decreasing due to loss of habitat.
Each year, it is getting harder to locate the species and the locations that I have found them in the past.
Today, as we were driving down from Manomet Point, we stopped at a grassy area between two of the houses on the point. I noticed a couple of small birds foraging in the grass. One of the birds had a white head. I photographed them from the car, using my D500 and Nikon 200-500 mm lens with a 1.4 converter.
It turns out that the bird with a white head was a song sparrow with leucism.
Leucism, or leukism, is an abnormal plumage condition caused by a genetic mutation that prevents pigment, particularly melanin, from being properly deposited on a bird’s feathers.
I have read many reports of the leucistic birds and other varieties of animals — the first instance of leucism that I have photographed.
The birds were very accommodating because they were busy feeding and being in between houses, buffered them from the wind.