Here we have a Sanderling (Calidris alba), a bird that spends its winter on our sandy beaches before heading to the High Arctic for the nesting season. They are often misidentified as Piping Plovers during migratory periods as both small, white shorebirds (in nonbreeding plumage for the Sanderling anyway) feed along the water like this. A rufous breeding plumage pattern takes over where the gray is, and by May these birds look unique and spectacular.
So much change in so little time…and so much flight distance covered before they nest and head back to us later in the summer. If that journey sounds difficult just think of what they have to contend with on their nesting grounds with predators like the Snowy Owl, gulls, jaegers, foxes and wolves. Winters with us must be relaxing and easy compared to all of that flying and parenting.