Breeding ecology of Wandering Tattlers Tringa incana: a study from south-central Alaska


99 – 114

1 September 15

Robert E. Gill, Jr., Pavel S. Tomkovich, Maksim N. Dementyev


R.E. Gill, Jr.
U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center, 4210 University Drive, Anchorage, Alaska 99508 USA


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Montane-nesting shorebirds are arguably the least studied of the Charadriiformes, owing in part to the remoteness of their breeding areas, low nesting densities, and specialized behaviors. We studied a marked population of the Wandering Tattler Tringa incana, during a three-year period (1997–1999) on nesting grounds in south-central Alaska. Two aspects of our results stand out. First is the previously undescribed preference for tattlers to nest several kilometers removed from pre-nesting feeding areas, mostly in association with both small (kettle) lakes and running water (near small distributaries of major drainages). Second is the apparent use of the study area by cohorts of birds of different breeding status, including (1) local breeders, which defended pre-breeding foraging areas, (2) local non-breeding birds, which remained on the area but were not territorial, and (3) transients that were captured later in the season, but not seen again on the area during the season of capture. We also found that (1) birds tended to nest in clusters despite what appeared to be the ample availability of nesting habitat, (2) they employed an inconspicuous’ nesting strategy whereby neither member of a pair betrayed its presence on the nesting area, and (3) females departed the area during early chick-rearing, leaving males to tend broods.