Thursday, May 6, 2010

Food Source for the migrating shorebirds

Horseshoe crabs play an important role in the ecosystem, any harm to them will interfere with the feeding and resting of hundreds of thousands migrating shorebirds.
In late spring the horsecrabs arrive on the Delaware beaches to lay their eggs. They say thousands of horseshoe crabs arrive in the Delaware Bay between May and June.




 The beaches which are mainly sand and pebble mixture are perfect for incubating the eggs. I read that one female can spawn repeatedly over several nights and lay over 100,000 eggs.





 Some of these eggs are exposed to the air which causes the egg to dry out and prevent the egg from hatching.  The exposed eggs are now the rich food source for the migrating birds. Delaware plays host to the second largest population of migrating birds. And these migrating birds depend on the exposed eggs for their feeding.




The horseshoe population needs to be protected from overharvesting. A decline in the horseshoe population can also mean a decline in the shorebird population.



I visited the Delaware beach this past weekend. Hubby and I walked along turning over any horsecrab that seemed stuck upside down. It was too early for most of the migrating shorebirds we did see quite a few Ruddy Turnstones and probably hundreds of Laughing Gulls.

To see more birds and other critters visit the Friday Ark and you can also visit Michelle's Nature Notes

Thanks for stopping by my blog.

19 comments:

birdsintemeadow said...

These creatures are amazing - so prehistoric looking! You are so lucky to be able to see them. And they play such an important role - I have heard of them before but had no idea that the shorebirds were so dependant - still, shouldn't be such a surprise as everything is linked like that. Thank you so much for visiting my blog and your kind comment on my bluebell post. I have had to leave this comment through my livejournal account as your blogger settings don't allow comments from self hosted blogs - I hope that's ok.

Bird
http://www.thebirdsinthemeadow.com

rainfield61 said...

We also have these horseshoe crabs in our place.
Though they are sold in restaurants for their eggs, I do not like to order because they do not taste good.

bettyl said...

Awesome photos! Thanks for the info, too.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Eileen: That was a really cool capture, I saw this on a nature show.

Indrani said...

What a name for the crab... probably it got it for its shape. Very interesting post, i have not seen them in our Indian coasts.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I love this post --- all new information for this transplanted (at least temporarily) Oregonian.... I'm bookmarking this post for Bill to read since we're hoping to make a trip up the East Coast later this season. (I know it will be too late to see the horseshoe crabs, but I would love to visit the beach anyway.

Your pictures (as always) are wonderful!

Johnny Nutcase said...

wow! so many, so cool! i've seen a lot before but never this many - nice post!

KaHolly said...

What great information! Accompanied by some mighty nice photos. Thanks a lot!! ~karen

Wren said...

I first learned about horseshoe crabs in grade school, but it's only when I became a birder I learned the connection with migrating birds. Isn't it amazing how so many pieces of nature fit together?

Elaine said...

Very interesting post and beautiful photos! It's amazing how important even the tiniest creature is in the survival of animals all up the food chain.

GreensboroDailyPhoto said...

Looks like a giant version of those roly poly bugs that live in moist places! Glad to see these horseshoe crabs are thriving in Delaware!

Jan
GDP

Rambling Woods said...

I wasn't aware of this interaction and need. It's sad that one thing can throw off a whole eco-system like in the gulf..interesting post.. Michelle

Martha Z said...

I have read about the importance of horseshoe crabs as a food source for migrating birds. If I remember correctly there is concern that the migration of red knots and the spawning of the crabs is getting out of phase, possibley do to climate change.

Linnea W said...

How interesting. I've never seen these before.

Gattina said...

These are very strange looking creatures ! I think I have never seen one, very interesting !

Lina Gustina said...

Amazing ones, right? Great post...

Thanks for dropping by at my CC post :)

SandyCarlson said...

These prehistoric dudes fascinate me. They are really amazing. Thanks for this insightful post.

Pam said...

Isn't it amazing how the horseshoe crabs gather in such large numbers. You photos are fantastic, Eileen.

Kilauea Poetry said...

Funny, I was thinking about you..and hope you too had a wonderful Mother's Day! I do enjoy your visits and am always amazed at your unique posts! This is terrific- lovely and informative!
The birds below are precious in the B&B too. Anyway, my best to you Eileen!
Regina-