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Surfbird Aphriza virgata


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Surfbird sitting on nest
credit: Hall, Terry, USFWS

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Family: Scolopacidae, Sandpipers view all from this family

Description ADULT In breeding season, has heavily streaked head, neck, and mantle; scapulars are marked with orange-brown and wings are otherwise dark. Underparts are white, but boldly marked with dark arrowhead spots. In winter, upperparts are mainly dark gray-brown, but note white throat and wing stripe; underparts are white with gray-brown spots. JUVENILE Similar to winter adult, but feathers on back and wings have pale margins.

Dimensions Length: 10" (25 cm)

Habitat Locally common breeding species on rocky ridges among upland tundra. In winter, found on rocky shores along Pacific coast.

Observation Tips Usually easy to find on rocky breakwaters in winter.

Range Alaska, Northwest, Western Canada, California

Voice Mostly silent.

Discussion Robust, plump-bodied shorebird associated with rocky shores and undaunted by breaking waves. Feeds in small groups outside breeding season and associates with Black Turnstone. All birds have a rather short, slender, and stubby bill, orange-yellow legs, and, in flight, striking white pattern on wings and tail (but not on back, as in turnstones). Sexes are similar.