Maori Name: Huahou
The Lesser Knot, Red Knot or Huahou are of the sandpiper family. They are a wading bird that breeds in the
There are 6 subspecies of the Lesser Knot, of which the rogersi is the only one to reach
It is the second most numerous Arctic wader that migrates to
The Lesser Knot has been closely monitored by banding and leg flagging, and makes impressively long journeys in 4 or 5 staging posts. The rogersi makes the longest migration of any Knot.
The Lesser Knot is a medium sized wader at 24 centimetres and quite nondescript, especially when out of breeding plumage. It is grey above and white below with a pale grey breast. There is some light barring on the breast and sides, and some pale barring from white edged feathers on the rump and upper tail. It has a rather small head and a short neck, with a straight, black, slightly tapering bill and short darkish legs.
In breeding plumage, their breast and under parts become rich red-orange and their upper feathers become grey or blackish with red spots or notches, which is a striking change from their normal dull colouring.
Their call is a tooit or wah quoit, but in
In terms of diet, knots feed on hard-shelled molluscs, particularly small bivalves. As shells are swallowed whole and crushed in their stomach knots have the largest gizzard relative to body mass of any shorebird.
The return journey back to the breeding grounds begins in March and April. The males arrive back first and stake their territory, then aggressively defend it. Males construct three to five nest scrapes in their territories prior to the arrival of the females. The nest is a shallow scrape lined with leaves, lichens and moss. The female lays 3 or more usually 4 eggs, apparently laid over the course of six days. Both parents will incubate the eggs over a period of around 22 days. The chicks are born quite mobile or precocial, which means that the family can leave the nest within a day of hatching. The female will leave for migration before the chicks fledge. Males stay until they are fledged then leave on their own migration south again.
The chicks will make the migration on their own, with many stopping in
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