[Snowy scene of a field with mountains in the background. Then a stream trickles through the snow. More water rushes by, with chunks of ice floating in it. A spoon-billed sandpiper stands at the water’s edge. It blinks and fluffs its feathers. A spoon-billed sandpiper walks along ice, slips a couple times, and probes with its bill. Another streams courses through a snowy field. A sandpiper looks around, its feathers blowing in the wind.] [Bird song] [A sandpiper walks near the water, then sees another sandpiper and calls. The second one walks away. A sandpiper walks through the snow.] [Bird song] [Mountains with water in front of them. A sandpiper forages in shallow water, then calls. More shots of a sandpiper calling. A mountain and water again, then some flowers. A sandpiper walks through grass and finds some things to eat. Grass blows in the wind. A sandpiper’s nest on the ground with four eggs in it. A sandpiper sits on its nest and carefully positions itself. A field with mountains in the background. More flowers blooming. Mountains, water, and a field with the sky lit up, then grass blowing in the wind. A sandpiper sits in a field as the wind blows. A chick becomes visible under the adult. The adult calls, and another chick pops out. The chicks walk around near the nest, as the adult continues calling. An adult and chick walk through a grassy field.] [Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Eurynorhynchus pygmeus. Filmed by Gerrit Vyn during June and Jully 2011 near Meinypilgyno, Chukotka, Russia]

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Within days of arriving on the breeding grounds, Spoon-billed Sandpiper courtship begins. Males perform display flights over favored areas to attract females and establish territories. Once together, a pair becomes inseparable. They forage within earshot of each other, copulate frequently, and prospect for places to nest. This video, shot during the first few days of a pair’s seasonal courtship, captures some of these rarely witnessed behaviors including an attempted copulation and a nest scrape display.

The Spoon-billed Sandpiper is one of the most critically endangered birds in the world. To learn more about the threats they face on breeding, migration, and wintering grounds, as well as efforts to save them, see our feature article from Living Bird magazine.