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Purple Sandpiper

Silhouette SandpipersSandpipers
Purple SandpiperCalidris maritima
  • ORDER: Charadriiformes
  • FAMILY: Scolopacidae

Basic Description

A pot-bellied shorebird with a long, drooping bill, the Purple Sandpiper is a hardy species that specializes on rocky, wave-battered coastlines. These subdued, gray-and-white sandpipers nimbly explore seaweed-covered rocks as they search for mussels, crustaceans, and flies, flashing bright orange on the legs and bill. The common name refers to a seldom-seen purple sheen on some of the wing feathers. Purple Sandpipers breed on arctic tundra; they spend winters on North Atlantic shores, farther north than any other shorebird.

More ID Info
image of range map for Purple Sandpiper
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Look for Purple Sandpipers in winter along rocky Atlantic shorelines—these hardy birds tend to be more common the farther north you go along the U.S. Atlantic coast and into Canada. Rocky marine shorelines as well as jetties, riprap, and breakwaters are the best places to find this species. Purple Sandpipers forage most heavily during falling tides, when their prey are newly exposed by receding water. In some places, they roost hidden among rocks during high tide, but at other times, they roost in sheltered, sunny spots in the open.

Other Names

  • Correlimos Oscuro (Spanish)
  • Bécasseau violet (French)
  • Cool Facts