Lunchtime with the Shorebirds

The shorebirds exhibit at the Aquarium is a quiet, sunny oasis for the rescued birds that live there. Watching them bop up and down the exhibit's shoreline, listening to them cheep and squawk, is also a treat for visitors.

The shorebirds get the corner office with a view of Boston Harbor.

But mealtime might make some folks squirm.

This day, our aquarists fed the birds a tasty buffet of beetle larvae, served up in trays and distributed discretely around the exhibit. The trays keep the larvae from wriggling into the sand and pebbles in the exhibit. The fish-eating birds — the common terns and black skimmer — also dine on frozen (then thawed) silversides and capelin, which are also on the menu for other Aquarium animals like the penguins and large fish in the Giant Ocean Tank. And no, they don't actually eat the fish in the exhibit!

Preparing lunchtime for the shorebirds

And now and then, the aquarists also release a jar of crickets into the exhibit. That's when you can really see the birds forage!

Special delivery for the shorebirds: crickets

In the wild shorebirds rely heavily on bugs and crustaceans they find on the beach, mainly in the wrack, or seaweed, that washes up and is found along the high tide line. In our exhibit, however, it would be a lot of work to constantly haul 50 pounds of wrack into the everyday and we might not know how much the birds are eating.

Most of the shorebirds in the exhibit were injured and could not survive on their own in the wild. There are the common terns, Ike and Truro, the semipalmated sandpiper, and piping plover. On your next visit to the Aquarium, be sure to take a moment to watch the shorebirds in their exhibit—you'll be transported to warm summer days at the shore no matter what the weather is like outside.

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