Little Stint at Pike's Beach, Suffolk County, New York on 16th July 2000


Introduction: On Sunday 16 July 2000, David Klauber, Eric Salzman and others visiting Pike's Beach on the southern shore of Long Island, New York in search of the previously reported alternate-plumaged Red-necked Stint, located a second 'stint' variously refered to as the 'paler stint' or 'second stint'. Tentatively identified as Little Stint by the finders, there has been some debate over the identification with other observers favouring a Red-necked Stint in a more advanced state of molt to the initial bird. Fortunately, Rex Stanford was able to capture a series of excellent photos of this bird, and they allowed resolution of the debate in favor of Little Stint.

Rex Stanford has kindly provided a set of useful comments to accompany his Little Stint Photos:

"These photos of an alternate-plumaged Little Stint were taken between, roughly, the late morning and 4:00PM of Sunday, July 16, 2000, just west of Pike's Beach, at a location about 0.8 miles east of the entrance to Cupsogue County Park, Suffolk Co., New York. This is the bay side of the barrier island (i.e.., the beach on the north side of the island). These photos (labeled with nonconsecutive numbers corresponding to items from a larger set of photos) were taken by Rex Stanford with a hand-held 35mm SLR camera (Canon EOS Elan II E with attached Canon Lens EF, 50mm, 1:1.8 II lens set at infinity) to shoot either through a Nikon Fieldscope ED78 with 30x eyepiece (Photos 5 and 13) or a Swarovski spotting scope with 82mm objective lens and 20-60x zoom eyepiece (Photos 6, 8, 10, and 11). The latter was kindly loaned, on site, for my photography by Andrew Baldelli. The film used to take these pictures was Kodak Royal Gold 400. Most of the comments below concern depicted features of the "target bird" that can help to differentiate alternate-plumaged Little Stint from Red-necked Stint at the same plumage stage. All the posted pictures of this Little Stint are copyright © Rex G. Stanford, 2000, and all rights are reserved, including rights to reproduction in any and all media and the rights of transmission, including over the internet. Providing the URL of this web page to others is the proper way to enable them to view these pictures."

"It may be of value to contrast the images of this Little Stint with those of the alternate-plumaged Red-necked Stint to be found elsewhere at this website. The latter images were obtained only the previous day by Angus Wilson."


Photo #10. The right hand bird is a typical adult Semipalmated Sandpiper. Note the striking brick red tone to the left hand bird. Photo copyright © of Rex Stanford


Photo #10a. Slight enlargement of the Little Stint shown above. Photo copyright © of Rex Stanford

"Photo 10: (a) Viewed from this angle, the very rich rufous character of tertial fringes, especially those stacked on top, becomes evident (see, also, Photo 11); and (b) rufous is on the upper scapulars and even on some of the lower ones. (ANCILLARY INFORMATION: The tiny, light-colored V-shaped to the left of and pointing toward the target stint's eye is not part of the bird and not debris stuck to it. This artifact apparently was due to some kind of opaque debris on the negative at the time of printing; it is not in my original print of this photo.)"


Photo #11. Partially obscured by a typical adult Semipalmated Sandpiper but showing the obvious white braces. Photo copyright © of Rex Stanford

"Photo 11: There is very rich, bright, rufous color in the tertial fringes of the target stint. This is characteristic of alternate-plumaged Little Stint."


Photo #13. Detail of scapulars and tertials. Photo copyright © of Rex Stanford

"Photo 13: (a) This photo, even more so than Photo 8, makes it evident that the orangish wash actually is within the necklace (on breast), the necklace itself being composed of fine brownish stippling that gives the appearance of light streaks (see this pattern in L. Jonsson, Birds of Europe with North Africa and the Middle East, p. 223, illustration for summer Little Stint in July; published 1993, Princeton University Press; contrast with same area on Red-necked Stint, p. 225); (b) the clean, pure white throat, not just chin, is again evident, albeit in shadow; however, this extreme enlargement of the scanned print gives a somewhat yellowish hue to some areas shown as white in the actual print, including the throat and the brilliant white underside of this bird; and (c) a general lack of contrast of the scapulars and the coverts is evident, due to very dark centers in the lower scapulars and most of the coverts, including greater coverts; (d) the centers of tertials also are reasonably dark; and (e) rufous is visible in some covert fringes, and some of these also are evident, on close inspection, in the original print."


Photo #8. Detail of scapulars and wing coverts. As clearly indicated here, the legs were described as very dark or black. Photo copyright © of Rex Stanford

"Photo 8: (a) This makes clear the dark centers of the wing coverts, as well as of the scapulars, whose fringes are still clear and appear relatively unworn; (b) related to this, there is no clear contrast in the darkness of the scapulars and the coverts; (c) the necklace effect on the breast seems made up of fine brownish stippling, and, very important, it seems thoroughly suffused with an orangish wash; (d) the pure white color of both the chin and throat are very apparent, without the slightest trace of reddish color, despite the rich color on the head (and elsewhere); (e) the relatively narrow character of the bill is apparent, although the tip is here, again, inserted into the substrate; (f) the primaries project slightly past the tail tip, despite the posture of the bird, which tends to pull the wings forward; and (g) in this close-up it is clear, as in many other photos and as was clear visually in the field, that the target bird's legs are blackish."


Photo #6. Adult Least Sandpiper in foreground. Note the apparant difference in leg length. Photo copyright © of Rex Stanford

" Photo 6: (a) The lengthy legs, especially the tibia, of the target stint (upper bird) are apparent, especially by contrast with those of the Least Sandpiper in the foreground; this appearance may, however, be slightly exaggerated due to the crouched posture of the Least Sandpiper; numerous photos displayed this long-legged appearance, and Little Stint is characterized by long tibia; (b) there is dark rufous on top of the head, and there is bright rufous in the auriculars, (c) the hindneck and sides of the neck are a much paler, more wash-like orangish color; (d) the reddish color extends onto the mantle and scapulars. The facial pattern of this bird is very similar to that of the Little Stint illustrated in L. Jonsson, Birds of Europe with North Africa and the Middle East, p. 223, illustration for summer Little Stint in July; published 1993, Princeton University Press."


Photo #5. Foot raised showing lack of webbing. Photo copyright © of Rex Stanford

"Photo 5: (a) It is clear from this view of the bird's left foot that it is unwebbed, and this is clearly evident, also, in another photo of this bird (not displayed here); (b) the throat, not just the chin, of this bird is a clear, pure white, although rich rufous color is present elsewhere; (c) the bill appears relatively finely tipped and perhaps a bit longer than might be expected in a typical Red-necked Stint; and (d) a brown-stippled necklace appears across the breast and onto the lower throat, and it seems suffused with an orange wash, features that are clearer in Photo 8 and, especially, in Photo 13."

"BEHAVIORAL NOTES: The Little Stint fed very energetically by both pecking and probing. It was bold, feisty, and not easily intimidated. It often threatened, by a low-headed, hunched-back posture, other peeps feeding nearby, and it often chased them or even flew at them. It seemed intimidated only by fast, close overflights of Barn Swallows. I have one picture, not shown, that apparently shows this threat pose. It also did not scare easily on account of aircraft. A small airplane once cruised directly over its area, as did a helicopter, at one point. It seemed undisturbed, although, on a least one such occasion, most of the other peeps in the area flew as the aircraft approached."

"A number of outside consultants highly knowledgeable about shorebirds, including at least one with very exceptional familiarity with Little Stint, have previously viewed these photos on line. It seems evident from their responses, as from the analyses of local birders who have seen these photos, that they show a Little Stint in alternate plumage. I hope viewers will enjoy these pictures and might find them helpful in future shorebirding. I regret the delay in getting the pictures before the public in this format. I had to leave on a 10-day trip the day after photographing the Little Stint, and this delayed multiple activities, including the evaluation process, that had to precede the posting of these materials on this website. Everyone surely will be grateful to Angus Wilson for his work in scanning and cropping these photos and in preparing this web page.

Comments on the photos or on these observations may be sent to Rex at (calidris@mindspring.com).

Additional Information

There are two accepted records of Little Stint for New York State and one additional unsubmitted report:

Adult, 17-22 July 1983 at Jamaica Bay, National Wildlife Refuge (photographed, Accepted, NYSARC)
Adult, 5 June 1984 at Jamaica Bay, National Wildlife Refuge

Juvenile, 2 September 1987 at Jamaica Bay, National Wildlife Refuge (Accepted, NYSARC #1987-26-A,B)

There are four accepted records of Red-necked Stint for New York State with at least one additional report:

Adult, 27 July-11 Aug 1985 at Jamaica Bay, National Wildlife Refuge
Two adults, 9 Aug 1992 at Cedar Beach (possibly one of same there on 23-29 Aug) (NYSARC, 1992-61-A)

Adult, 8 July 1994 at Jamaica Bay, National Wildlife Refuge (possibly lingering until 5 Aug)(NYSARC, 1994-33-A-C)

A fading adult reported from Marshlands Conservancy in Rye 18 Aug 1995 was not accepted by NYSARC. (NYSARC 1995-23-A)

Adult, Cupsogue County Park and Pike's Beach 12-18 July 2000 (photographed, submitted for NYSARC review)


All photographs are copyright of Rex Stanford © 2000 All rights reserved.

Comment should be direced to Rex Stanford or Angus Wilson.
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