Gulls swooped and soared, flapped and screeched, and demanded my attention during a recent retreat on the Oregon coast. But what really got my attention was the absence of my favorite shorebird, the western sandpiper (Calidris mauri). There are millions of these little birds along the coast of Western North America—and along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, too—eating their fill of insects, small crustaceans, and marine worms. Western sandpipers migrate to Alaska to breed on the tundra, where the male makes potential nests and the female chooses the nest she prefers. The flock that flies away will return—so here’s to another time at the beach when I’ll see my favorite shorebird again.

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