Photo: Arthur Morris/Vireo

Priority Bird

Western Sandpiper

Calidris mauri

A close relative of the Semipalmated Sandpiper. Western Sandpipers nest mostly in Alaska and migrate mostly along the Pacific Coast, but many reach the Atlantic Coast in fall and remain through the winter. Of the various dull gray sandpipers to be found commonly on coastal beaches in winter, Western is the smallest.
Conservation status Still abundant, but vulnerable because high percentage of population may stop during migration at a few key points, such as Copper River Delta in Alaska. Declining numbers of migrants have been documented in some areas.
Family Sandpipers
Habitat Shores, beaches, mudflats; in summer, dry tundra. Migrants and wintering birds are typically on open shorelines, mudflats, sandy beaches, tidal estuaries. In winter mostly along coast, few remaining inland then. Breeds on tundra slopes, choosing dry sites with low shrub layer and with marshes nearby for feeding.
A close relative of the Semipalmated Sandpiper. Western Sandpipers nest mostly in Alaska and migrate mostly along the Pacific Coast, but many reach the Atlantic Coast in fall and remain through the winter. Of the various dull gray sandpipers to be found commonly on coastal beaches in winter, Western is the smallest.
Photo Gallery
Feeding Behavior

Forages by walking in shallow water or on mud and probing in mud with bill; also feeds by searching visually and picking up items from surface of shore.


Eggs

4, sometimes 3, perhaps rarely 5. Whitish to brown, with darker brown spots. Incubation is by both parents, about 21 days. At first, female incubates from late afternoon to mid-morning, male only during mid-day, but male's proportion increases later. Female sometimes departs before eggs hatch. Young: Downy young leave nest a few hours after hatching. Sometimes both parents care for the chicks, but often the female deserts them after a few days, leaving the male to care for the young. Young feed themselves. Age at first flight about 17-21 days.


Young

Downy young leave nest a few hours after hatching. Sometimes both parents care for the chicks, but often the female deserts them after a few days, leaving the male to care for the young. Young feed themselves. Age at first flight about 17-21 days.

Diet

Includes insects, crustaceans, mollusks, marine worms. On breeding grounds, eats mostly flies and beetles, also other insects, spiders, small crustaceans. Diet in migration and winter varies. On coast eats many amphipods and other crustaceans, small mollusks, marine worms, insects. Inland migrants eat mostly insects, some seeds.


Nesting

Male sings while performing display flight over breeding territory. On ground, unmated male approaches female in hunched posture, tail raised over back; repeatedly gives trilled call. Nest site is on ground, usually under low shrub or grass clump. Nest is shallow depression with sparse lining of sedges, leaves, lichens. Male makes several nest scrapes, female chooses one.

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

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Migration

From breeding grounds in Alaska and eastern Siberia, migrates southeast to wintering areas on both coasts of North and South America. Apparently migrates in series of short to moderate flights, without long overwater flights of some shorebirds.

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Migration

From breeding grounds in Alaska and eastern Siberia, migrates southeast to wintering areas on both coasts of North and South America. Apparently migrates in series of short to moderate flights, without long overwater flights of some shorebirds.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A soft cheep or kreep, higher and thinner than that of Semipalmated.
California Working Lands

California Working Lands

California’s Central Valley is one of this country’s most important food-producing areas, and a critical habitat for many birds

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