Bird GuideSandpipersBaird's Sandpiper

At a Glance

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.
Sandpiper-like Birds, Sandpipers
Low Concern
Coasts and Shorelines, Fields, Meadows, and Grasslands, Freshwater Wetlands, High Mountains, Lakes, Ponds, and Rivers, Saltwater Wetlands, Tundra and Boreal Habitats
Alaska and The North, California, Eastern Canada, Florida, Great Lakes, Mid Atlantic, New England, Northwest, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Southwest, Texas, Western Canada
Direct Flight, Rapid Wingbeats, Running

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

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.


7 1/2" (19 cm). Long wingtips extend past tip of tail. Suggests White-rumped Sandpiper but browner overall, with brown wash across chest (in flight, lacks white rump patch). Fall juvenile has buff brown head, scaly back. Least Sandpiper is smaller, with finer bill, paler legs.
About the size of a Robin, About the size of a Sparrow
Black, Brown, Gray, Tan, White
Wing Shape
Long, Pointed, Tapered
Tail Shape
Rounded, Short, Square-tipped, Wedge-shaped

Songs and Calls

A soft krrrrt; also a loud trill similar to that of other "peeps."
Call Pattern
Flat, Rising, Undulating
Call Type
Buzz, Rattle, Trill, Whistle


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.



Usually 4, sometimes fewer. Pinkish-buff to olive, blotched with dark brown. Incubation is by both parents, 19-22 days.


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.

Feeding Behavior

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


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.


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.

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

Still reasonably common, but like other species breeding only in the high Arctic, probably vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Climate Map

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Baird's Sandpiper. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.

Climate Threats Facing the Baird's Sandpiper

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.