Written by Richard Degener/pressofAtlanticCity.com
Every spring, David Mizrahi sees fewer of the tiny shorebirds arriving to eat horseshoe crab eggs on the Delaware Bay. His expeditions to South America are documenting a similar decline on their wintering grounds.
But the bird is not a Red Knot.
Mizrahi, vice president of research and monitoring for the New Jersey Audubon Society, is tracking a shorebird called the semi-palmated sandpiper. He began studying it in 1995, when he was working toward his doctorate, and he continued his studies after being hired by the society 13 years ago.
The red knot, a state-endangered bird under consideration for federal listing, migrates from South America, stopping locally along the Delaware Bay to eat horseshoe crab eggs to gain enough weight to continue its trek to Arctic nesting grounds. A decline in its numbers, from perhaps 90,000 birds in the 1980s to just 26,000 today, gets most of the media attention.