|Conservation status||Numbers probably increased in the early days of settlement, up through the early 1800s, as forest was turned into farmland in eastern North America. During the period of commercial hunting in the late 1800s, great numbers were shot, and the population dropped sharply. Since that time, Upland Sandpipers have recovered in a few areas. Their numbers are apparently holding steady on parts of Great Plains, but in much of the east and northeast they are now very local.|
|Habitat||Grassy prairies, open meadows, fields. Favored nesting habitat is native grassland, with mixture of tall grass and broad-leafed weeds. In the northeast, where natural grassland is now scarce, may be found most often on airports. In migration, stops on open pastures, lawns. Almost never on mudflats or other typical shorebird habitats.|
Forages by walking through the grass, with rather abrupt or jerky movements, picking up items from ground or from vegetation.
4. Pale buff to pinkish-buff, lightly spotted with reddish-brown. Incubation is by both sexes, 22-27 days. Young: Downy young leave nest soon after hatching. Both parents tend young, but young feed themselves. If nest or young are threatened, adults perform distraction display to lead predators away. Age of young at first flight about 30-31 days.
Downy young leave nest soon after hatching. Both parents tend young, but young feed themselves. If nest or young are threatened, adults perform distraction display to lead predators away. Age of young at first flight about 30-31 days.
Mostly insects, some seeds. Feeds on a wide variety of insects, including many grasshoppers, crickets, beetles and their larvae, moth caterpillars, and many others; also spiders, centipedes, earthworms, snails. Also eats some seeds of grasses and weeds, and waste grain in fields.
Male displays over breeding territory in song-flight, with shallow, fluttering wingbeats and drawn-out whistles, often very high above the ground. May nest in loose colonies, with all the pairs in a local area going through stages of nesting (egg-laying, hatching, etc.) at almost exactly the same time. Nest site is on ground among dense grass, typically well hidden, with grass arched above it. Nest (probably built by both sexes) is shallow scrape on ground, lined with dry grass.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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A long-distance migrant, vacating North America entirely in winter. Migrates mostly through Great Plains in both spring and fall.
- 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 CallsAlarm call a mellow quip-ip-ip-ip. On breeding grounds and at night during migration, a long, mournful, rolling whistle.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Upland 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 Upland 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.