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Western Sandpiper

Silhouette SandpipersSandpipers
Western SandpiperCalidris mauri
  • ORDER: Charadriiformes
  • FAMILY: Scolopacidae

Basic Description

With rufous and gold markings on the head and wings, breeding adult Western Sandpipers are the most colorful of the tiny North American sandpipers known as “peeps.” This abundant shorebird gathers in flocks numbering in the hundreds of thousands in California and Alaska during spring migration. It’s among the continent’s great wildlife spectacles, particularly when they fly up and wheel about, exercising their wings (or fleeing from falcons on the hunt) before flying to remote nesting grounds in the Arctic.

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

Western Sandpipers are fairly common in tidal areas where they join other shorebirds in foraging on mudflats at low and middle tides. These tiny birds can be a long way away, so a spotting scope is all but essential for distinguishing them from other small shorebirds. In inland habitats such as flooded fields, sewage ponds, or muddy lakeshores, Western Sandpipers are often closer, but usually less plentiful. In nonbreeding plumage, “peeps” can be hard to identify to the species level, so taking photos or digiscoping can be useful for later study.

Other Names

  • Correlimos de Alaska (Spanish)
  • Bécasseau d'Alaska (French)
  • Cool Facts