Red Knot, Calidris canutus
Red Knots are medium-sized shorebirds that breed in the Arctic tundra regions of North America, Europe, and Asia from late May to early June.
During the breeding season, they are commonly found in sparsely vegetated areas near freshwater ponds and lakes, where their diet primarily consists of insects, spiders, and various invertebrates that are abundant in the surrounding wetland habitats.
These birds forage in these wetland habitats, probing the mud and sand for prey items such as small crustaceans, beetles, flies, caterpillars, and freshwater insects and larvae. Their long bills allow them to reach deep into the mud substrates to find and extract hidden prey. Additionally, they may occasionally feed on seeds and berries.
Male Red Knots perform elaborate aerial displays to attract females. These displays involve intricate flight patterns and calls to establish their suitability as mates.
Nest building takes place on the ground, typically near the shoreline. They create shallow depressions lined with grass, leaves, and twigs. These nests are well-camouflaged amidst the surrounding vegetation.
After laying eggs, which usually number four, the female takes on the primary responsibility of incubation while the male may help occasionally. Incubation lasts for about three weeks. Upon hatching, the chicks are precocial and covered in down feathers. Their initial diets primarily consist of insects and small invertebrates that their parents provide.
As the chicks develop, they learn to forage under the guidance of their parents. The adults demonstrate foraging techniques, teaching the young birds how to find food effectively.
Fledging occurs after about three to four weeks, but adult guidance continues as the young birds refine their foraging skills and broaden their diet. Red Knot chicks gradually shift from a primarily insect-based diet to include more diverse prey items like crustaceans and mollusks.
Red Knots embark on extensive migrations, flying along specific flyways. They leave their breeding grounds in late July to early August, using the East Atlantic Flyway to reach their wintering areas in countries along the coasts of Africa, Europe, and South America.
During the winter, Red Knots favor coastal habitats such as mudflats and estuaries where they forage on a diet consisting mainly of mollusks, bivalves, and small crabs.
They typically depart from their wintering grounds and begin their northward migration in late April to early May, returning to their breeding areas in the Arctic tundra for another nesting season.