Red Knots are robin-sized, with short, olive, dark gray or black legs and a short,
black bill. They are bright rufous below with black, white and gray patterning on their
wings and back during the breeding season. In the nonbreeding season, knots become
nondescript light gray sandpipers with barring on their flanks. They appear chunkier and
flatter than most other sandpipers. In flight, white wing linings and gray barred rumps
Similar Species:Sanderlings, Dunlins or the
rare Curlew Sandpiper can offer some confusion. Sanderlings
are smaller and whiter in nonbreeding plumage and in breeding plumage have a white belly. Red Knots are chunkier with a shorter, straight bill than Dunlins
and Curlew Sandpipers.
Knots breed on the arctic tundra and winter along coastal sandy beaches, mudflats and
interior lakes and reservoirs. Like Ruddy Turnstones, Red Knots often fly without stopping
across the central Great Plains during migration. They are usually not found in large
flocks within the central portion of the region. A visit to Delaware Bay on the Atlantic
coast during spring migration is an awe-inspiring phenomenon as tens of thousands of Red
Knots feed on horseshoe crab eggs with Ruddy Turnstones, Semipalmated Sandpipers and Sanderlings.