This juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit was in the godwit flock at the Tokeland Marina on 10/10/11. Note the stark difference in plumage compared to the pictures of the adult birds from last weeks posting. Again, messy plumage usually means adult; crisp, neat plumage stands for juvenile.
We often think of a bill to be the “hard part” of a shorebird. Not so. Bills are in fact quite malleable and here’s the proof. Also visible in this picture is the birds tongue. It looks like the bird possibly has just sucked in a lot of air.
Another example of this phenomenon was recently posted to OBOL (see http://oregonbirds.org/pipermail/obol_oregonbirds.org/2011-August/009794.html) in the context of dowitchers. While the original picture does not seem to be available any longer, Dan Gleason’s comment explains what is going on scientifically.
A single Marbled Godwit was lying down as all other birds were on their feet. This seemed somewhat unusual at the time.