Spectacular Vocal and Flight Display by Pectoral Sandpipers

AUK-14-25-sandpiper1(October 15, 2014, The Auk: Ornithological Advances)—Each year male Pectoral Sandpipers produce spectacular vocal and flight displays as part of their mating behavior on the Arctic breeding grounds. Much speculation existed on how the vocal display is produced and how it is coordinated with flight movements. In a collaboration between the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology—which runs a long-term population study of Pectoral Sandpipers at Barrow, Alaska—and the University of Utah, the morphology of the vocal apparatus, the sounds produced by males during the display, and the flight movements were analyzed by Riede et al. The vocal organ shows signs of complex design and control which is almost comparable with that of a songbird. The coordination between vocal production and flight obviously is a demanding performance, in this highly polygynous shorebird with strong sexual size dimorphism. Read the open access article at http://www.aoucospubs.org/doi/full/10.1642/AUK-14-25.1.