Published: May 28, 2015

The traveling knot

On 22 May, Rob Curtis discovered a flock of seven Red Knots (Calidris canutus) on Montrose Beach, on Chicago's north side, a beach almost as famous for its birds as its sand. One Red Knot in the Chicago area is unusual, but seven is remarkable. Even more remarkable was that one of the knots--a particularly brightly colored one--had an engraved "flag" on its leg, with a readable alpha-numeric code unique to that individual. By reporting the flag's code to, the birding community was able to learn the date and location it was banded and the locations of all of the resightings.

Many Red Knots--which breed on the Arctic tundra--spend the non-breeding season on the other side of the globe at the southern tip of South America. But not 1YY. It turns out the bird was banded in January 2010 on the Gulf Coast of Florida, where some Red Knots winter, with subsequent sightings in Ontario, Georgia, Florida, and, just recently, Illinois. See the map below to see all of the resightings since it was banded more than five years ago. Amazing!