Species Spotlight: Red Knot

Get to know some of the species at risk in the Lac Deschênes IBA with the Species Spotlight, aka “Sp-Spot”. Today meet the: Red Knot

Red Knot

Red Knots in flight

Scientific Name: Calidris canutus
SARA status: Least Concern Ontario: Endangered
Taxonomic Group: Birds
Size: 23-26 cm in length, 47-53 cm wingspan

Red Knots are medium sized shorebirds with a short, straight bill and olive-coloured legs. It is named for its brick-red face, throat and breast when in breeding plumage. Its back is a speckled grey-brown colour. In the winter, they are mostly grey with a white belly. The Red Knot feeds on invertebrates such as small snails, bivalves and crustaceans.

The Red Knot makes one of the longest yearly migrations of any bird, traveling 15 000 km from its Arctic habitat to Tierra del Fuego in southern South America. They are generally found in marine habitats, near coastal lagoons, and they breed in drier tundra areas. The population of Red Knots in South America during migration season has decreased over 50% from the mid 1980s to 2003. The main threat is the loss of key resources at their migration sites. Another threat is the habitat destruction due to pollution, recreation and development.

Where Else Can You See This Species?
The coastal mudflats along the southwest coast of Hudson Bay and James Bay are important spring and fall migration sites for the Red Knot. They can also be seen during the fall along the Great Lakes beaches. Around mid-summer, Red Knots can be found in the Delaware Bay, feeding in large numbers on the eggs of horseshoe crabs.

Did You Know?
• Red Knot eggs camouflage very well with the bare tundra, which is very helpful since their nests don’t offer the best protection from predators.
• During courtship, a male Red Knot will fly up into the air, start singing while gliding around and then they will land with his wings pointed upwards.

Check back every week to read about a different species at risk that can be found in Lac Deschênes.
You can report sightings of this and other rare species to the Canadian Wildlife Service at (819) 997-2800 or on the MNR Natural Heritage Information Centre website. A photo and a location are very helpful!

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We would like to thank our guest blogger Kelsey Ha for this post. Kelsey is a high school student volunteer at Nature Canada and is interested in biology and environmental sciences.