|Conservation status||Widely dispersed range makes species difficult to census, but also probably helps to ensure survival.|
|Habitat||Rock coasts, pebbly beaches. Nests near mountain streams above timberline. In migration and winter usually on rocky coastline or similar areas, such as rock jetties or breakwaters. Occasionally feeds on nearby mudflats or sand beaches. In breeding season, found along rocky or gravelly streams in northern mountains.|
Forages more actively than other shorebirds of rocky coasts, moving about quickly over rocks, picking items from surface. Also probes among rocks or in mats of algae. On breeding grounds, forages by walking or wading along mountain streams.
Usually 4. Olive to green, heavily blotched with brown. Incubation is by both parents, about 23-25 days. The incubating adult may sit motionless on the nest even when approached very closely. Young: Downy young leave nest soon after hatching. Both parents tend the young at first, but after 1-2 weeks usually only one adult is present. Young feed themselves, following parents along edge of stream; young can swim well even when small. Age at first flight not well known.
Downy young leave nest soon after hatching. Both parents tend the young at first, but after 1-2 weeks usually only one adult is present. Young feed themselves, following parents along edge of stream; young can swim well even when small. Age at first flight not well known.
Includes insects, crustaceans, mollusks. On northern breeding grounds, feeds on insects, including flies, beetles, and caddisflies, also amphipods and small mollusks. During migration and winter, eats a variety of mollusks, marine worms, crabs and other crustaceans, and other invertebrates.
Early in breeding season, male displays over nesting habitat with high flight, giving whistled song; flight path is long and straight, may extend well beyond limits of nesting territory. Nest site is on ground among rocks or gravel near mountain stream. Nest is shallow depression; may be unlined, or may have substantial lining of small twigs, rootlets, and dry leaves.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Mostly a long-distance migrant. Some winter along our Pacific Coast, but many go as far as Australia, in series of long flights across Pacific. Small numbers also winter along South American west coast.
- 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 series of 3 or 4 clear whistles, given in flight.
Learn more about this sound collection.
How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Wandering Tattler
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 Wandering Tattler
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.