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Shorebirds are easy – they are found at the shore. Well, not quite so easy. Some such as Killdeer can be found in your yard. Others can be found in or at the edge of almost any body of water. Gulls, terns, sandpipers, and plovers are the major groups of shorebirds introduced this week. Each of these four represent a different group of birds but the groups often mingle on or near our beaches – and each species has unique physical and behavioral characteristics. Gulls are typically big, with short, stout bills – they are scavengers that often float on the surface or just stand around on land. Terns are also big, but often smaller, with more sharply pointed bills and relatively long, pointed wings. They dive into water to capture fish, but rarely swim. Sandpipers tend to be quite varied among species. Some have a short bill, some have a very long bill; all tend to have a very sloping forehead. These birds often race along the shore as the water goes in and out. There they capture small fish tiny clams, and other creatures that the waves deliver. Plovers are similar in some ways, but differ in having a bill that is shorter than the head, and generally straight and stout. Some plovers, such as our Killdeer and Wilson’s Plover, have a dark breast or neck band that breaks up their outline and makes them harder to be seen by potential predators.