Photo: Richard Crossley/Vireo

Baird's Sandpiper

Calidris bairdii

Nesting in the high Arctic, this sandpiper is seen by birders mostly in its migrations through the Great Plains. Many other shorebirds that migrate north through the prairies in spring go south off our Atlantic Coast in fall; however, Baird's follows the plains route at both seasons, although a few spread out to either coast in fall. A long-winged, long-distance migrant, this is one of the few shorebirds that regularly stops at lakes in the high mountains.
Conservation status Still reasonably common, but like other species breeding only in the high Arctic, probably vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Family Sandpipers
Habitat Rainpools, mudflats, shores, fields. In migration, often chooses slightly drier or more open habitats than related small sandpipers: dry and sandy shores, nearby grassy areas, even open fields. Also found on mudflats, flooded fields. Breeds on dry upland tundra in Arctic.
Nesting in the high Arctic, this sandpiper is seen by birders mostly in its migrations through the Great Plains. Many other shorebirds that migrate north through the prairies in spring go south off our Atlantic Coast in fall; however, Baird's follows the plains route at both seasons, although a few spread out to either coast in fall. A long-winged, long-distance migrant, this is one of the few shorebirds that regularly stops at lakes in the high mountains.
Photo Gallery
  • adult, breeding
  • adult, nonbreeding
  • juvenile
  • juvenile
Feeding Behavior

Forages mostly by picking items from surface, not by probing; moves about actively on flats, looking for insects and other prey.


Eggs

Usually 4, sometimes fewer. Pinkish-buff to olive, blotched with dark brown. Incubation is by both parents, 19-22 days. Young: Downy young leave nest soon after hatching. Young are tended by both parents at first, but female may depart before male. Age of young at first flight about 16-20 days.


Young

Downy young leave nest soon after hatching. Young are tended by both parents at first, but female may depart before male. Age of young at first flight about 16-20 days.

Diet

Mostly insects. Diet not well known. On northern breeding grounds, eats many insects, especially flies and beetles; also spiders, other invertebrates. During migration, feeding in drier habitats, probably continues to feed mostly on insects, including caterpillars. Also takes some amphipods and other crustaceans.


Nesting

Male flies high over breeding habitat in slow hovering flight, fluttering wings continuously, giving trilled song. At beginning of breeding season, males may tend to be clustered fairly close together, perhaps to help in attracting females to area. Nest site is on ground on dry tundra, in area with rocks and only low ground cover. May be well hidden under grass clump. Nest (probably built mostly by male) is a shallow scrape, lined with lichens, grass, dry leaves.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

In late summer and early fall, large numbers congregate on the Great Plains and in the central valleys of Mexico; then most apparently fly nonstop to South America.

Download Our Bird Guide App

Migration

In late summer and early fall, large numbers congregate on the Great Plains and in the central valleys of Mexico; then most apparently fly nonstop to South America.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A soft krrrrt; also a loud trill similar to that of other "peeps."
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

Explore Similar Birds