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Hybridisation in shorebirds has been proven on only a small number of occasions; however, many individual shorebirds have been recorded by birdwatchers worldwide which do not fit the characters of known species. Many of these have been suspected of being hybrids. In several cases, shorebird hybrids have been described as new species before their hybrid origin was discovered. Compared to other groups of birds (such as gulls), only a few species of shorebirds are known or suspected to hybridize, but nonetheless, these hybrids occur quite frequently in some cases.

Hybrids in the Scolopaci (typical waders)

"Cooper's" and "Cox's" sandpipers

Main article: Cox's Sandpiper

An apparently new sandpiper species ("Cooper's Sandpiper Tringa/Calidris cooperi") was described in 1858 based on a specimen collected in 1833 on Long Island, New York. A similar bird was collected in 1981 at Stockton, New South Wales, Australia. These are probably hybrids between the Curlew Sandpiper ("Calidris" ferruginea) and the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Philomachus acuminatus/Calidris acuminata) (Cox 1990a; 1990b).

Cox's Sandpiper ("Calidris" × paramelanotos), described as a new species in 1982 (Parker, 1982), is now known to be a stereotyped hybrid between males of the Pectoral Sandpiper ("Calidris" melanotos) and female Curlew Sandpipers (Christidis et al., 1996). It is known from nearly two dozen sightings since the 1950s, almost all of which are from Australia, with one record from Massachusetts (Vickery et al., 1987; Buckley, 1988) and another from Japan (Ujihara, 2002).

Other hybrid scolopacids

A stint at Groote Keeten in the Netherlands which was initially thought to be that country's first record of the Least Sandpiper but which showed anomalous features, was postulated to be a hybrid between Little Stint ("Calidris" minuta) and Temminck's Stint ("Calidris" temminckii) (Jonsson, 1996)

Putative hybrids between the Dunlin ("Calidris" alpina) and the White-rumped Sandpiper ("Calidris" fuscicollis) have been occasionally seen in northeastern North America (McLaughlin & Wormington, 2000, and external link below). In Europe, on the other hand, an apparent hybrid between the Dunlin and the Purple Sandpiper ("Calidris" maritima) has turned up (Millington, 1994).

Intrageneric hybridization has also been reported between Common (Actitis hypoleucos) and Spotted Sandpipers (Actitis macularia)[citation needed].

Occurrence of intergeneric hybridization has been reported between the Buff-breasted Sandpiper ("Tryngites" subruficollis) and the White-rumped (or possibly Baird's, "Calidris" bairdii) Sandpiper[citation needed] - the parent species apparently do belong into the same genus, however (see calidrid) -, as well as between the Common and the Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)[citation needed].

Hybridisation in the Charadrii (oystercatchers, stilts, avocets and plovers)

Hybridisation between American (Haematopus palliatus frazari) and Black Oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani) is relatively common in southern California and adjacent Mexico (Jehl, 1985; Paulson, 2005[verification needed]).

The "avistilt" or "stavocet" is a hybrid between Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus) and American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana), occasionally found in California (Paulson, 2005). One such bird was accidentally bred in the San Francisco Zoo in 1971 and lived at least until 1974. The avocet was the father and the stilt the mother of this individual, which apparently was a male (Principe, 1977).

The nearly extinct New Zealand Black Stilt (Himantopus novaezelandiae) hybridizes with the Pied Stilt (Himantopus leucocephalus), which jeopardizes the survival of the former species (Pierce, 1984).

A Pluvialis plover wintering with a flock of Golden Plover near Marksbury, England in 1987 was believed to be possibly a hybrid between Golden Plover and Pacific Golden Plover.(Vinicombe 1988)

See also


  • Buckley, P. A. (1988): The World's first known juvenile Cox's Sandpiper. British Birds 81(6): 253-257.
  • Christidis, Les; Davies, Kizanne; Westerman, Michael; Christian, Peter D. & Schodde, Richard (1996): Molecular assessment of the taxonomic status of Cox's Sandpiper. Condor 98(3): 459-463. PDF fulltext
  • Cox, John B. (1990b): The measurements of Cooper's Sandpiper and the occurrence of a similar bird in Australia. South Australian Ornithologist 30: 169-181
  • Jehl, J. R. Jr. (1985): Hybridization and evolution of oystercatchers on the Pacific Coast of Baja California. Ornithological Monographs 36: 484-504.
  • Jonsson, Lars (1996): Mystery stint at Groote Keeten: First known hybrid between Little and Temminck's Stint? Dutch Birding 18: 24-28.
  • McLaughlin K. A. & Wormington, A. (2000): An apparent Dunlin × White-rumped Sandpiper hybrid. Ontario Birds 18(1): 8-12.
  • Parker, Shane A. (1982): A new sandpiper of the genus Calidris. South Australian Naturalist 56: 63.
  • Paulson, Dennis R. (2005) Shorebirds of North America: a photographic guide. Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J.. ISBN 0-691-12107-9
  • Pierce, R. J. (1984): Plumage, morphology and hybridisation of New Zealand Stilts Himantopus spp. Notornis 31: 106–130. PDF fulltext
  • Principe, W. L. Jr. (1977): A hybrid American Avocet × Black-necked Stilt. Condor 79: 128–129. PDF fulltext
  • Ujihara, Michiaki (2002): An apparent juvenile Cox's Sandpiper in Japan. Birding World 15(8): 346-347.
  • Vickery, P. D.; Finch, D. W. & P. K. Donahue (1987): Juvenile Cox's Sandpiper (Calidris paramelanotos) in Massachusetts, a first New World occurrence and a hitherto undescribed plumage. American Birds 41(5): 1366-1369.
  • Vinicombe, Keith (1988) Unspecific Golden Plover in Avon Birding World 1 (2): 54 - 56

External links

Template:Project Bird Hybrids

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