|Conservation status||Numbers may have been reduced by market hunting in the late 1800s, but current numbers are probably stable.|
|Habitat||In migration, prairie pools, muddy shores, fresh and tidal marshes; in summer, tundra. Migrants favor grassy places rather than open mudflats. Often seen along grassy edges of shores, at edges of tidal marsh, in flooded fields or wet meadows. Sometimes on dry prairie or even plowed fields. On breeding grounds, favors wet grassy areas of tundra.|
Forages by picking up items from surface of ground, also by probing in mud or shallow water.
4. Whitish to olive-buff, blotched with dark brown. Incubation is by female only, 21-23 days. Young: Downy young leave nest soon after hatching. Female tends young, but young feed themselves. Age at first flight about 21 days.
Downy young leave nest soon after hatching. Female tends young, but young feed themselves. Age at first flight about 21 days.
Mostly insects. Diet not well known. On breeding grounds, feeds mostly on insects, especially flies and their larvae, also beetles and others. Also eats amphipods, spiders, some seeds. Diet in migration may include small crabs and other crustaceans, plus other aquatic invertebrates, but insects may still be main food.
In flight display, male puffs out chest sac so that chest looks like a feathered balloon. As the male flies low over a female on the ground, he gives low-pitched throbbing hooting noise; after passing female he circles, alternating flutters and glides, back to his starting point. On ground, male approaches female with tail raised, wings drooping, chest puffed out. One male may mate with several females, and he takes no part in caring for the eggs or young. Nest site is on ground in grassy tundra, often in dry upland site but sometimes near water, usually well hidden in grass. Nest (built by female) is shallow depression with cup-shaped lining of grass and leaves.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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The winter range is mostly in South America, but some (probably from nesting grounds in Siberia) migrate to Australia and New Zealand. Compared to other shorebirds, migration is relatively early in spring and late in fall. Adults migrate south at least a month before juveniles, on average, with adults peaking in late August, young birds in late September.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsA dull krrrrp.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Pectoral Sandpiper
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Pectoral 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.