Whenever I see a Spotted Sandpiper I think of my middle school baseball coach. I was a small kid, without a powerful throwing arm, but the reason for my weak arm wasn't my size. It was that I did not follow through completely when I threw. Mr. Laginess worked with me to try to correct my style, but it only helped a little. Despite my weak arm, I had a good glove, so he put me at second base, and to this day I consider that the best position on the field.
Which brings us to the Spotted Sandpiper. If you are walking along the shore, and you flush a Spotted Sandpiper, it will fly off with a few high peeps, skimming low over the surface of the water. But instead of using its wings to their fullest, it takes short, shallow flaps that make me want to shout, "Follow through! You're only using half your wing!" It sure seems like an inefficient way to get from point A to point B. And then, when it gets to point B, it stands there bouncing its butt up and down, as if to say, "Hey, I've still got plenty of energy." And it's always bouncing its butt; even the chicks, right after hatching, can be seen doing the butt bounce.
Who am I to talk? I guess it's not much different from an infielder nervously pounding his glove. And this tiny seven-inch bird, with its shallow wing beat, travels a migratory route each year all the way from Central America to Canada, and still has plenty of energy to bounce its butt. I envy that.
Dan's Feathursday Feature is a weekly contribution to the COS blog featuring the thoughts, insights and pictures of Chicago birder, Dan Lory on birds of the Chicago region.