Or

Why Eating Raw Seafood Is Dangerous

Or

Ouch!  That Looks Like It Smarts!

Or

The Hunter Becomes The Hunted

What am I talking about?  A very unfortunate Semipalmated Sandpiper that chose the wrong mussel to make into a meal.  It was at Jones Beach State Park a couple of weeks ago and all of the five birders who observed this poor bird’s plight felt nothing but pity.

I am definitely not an expert or a scientist or anything but from what I understand this looks like very good news for the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper.  After all, Shell-billed Sandpiper must be closely related so maybe we can get a captive breeding program going and then backcross the results later and save the spoonie?  Great idea, no?

*crickets*

Fine, you’re probably right, it is too ambitious a program anyway.

Anyway, the sandpiper struggled with the shell for over fifteen minutes, occasionally jumping up and flapping its wings vigorously or shaking its head or doing both at the same time.  Nothing seemed to work.  Then we were all distracted by the Hudsonian Godwit that was also present awakening from its slumber and letting us see its bill and when we looked again for the shell-bill it was gone.  Or it was present sans shell.  I imagine the latter is more likely.

I picture the sandpiper, ten years from now, with dozens of sandpiper grandchildren gathered around, telling the tale of the foot-long beast of shellfish that put the dents in its bill. But maybe that’s just me.

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Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy, their son, Desmond Shearwater, and their indoor cat, B.B. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.