South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Tryngites subruficollis

Length: 8 inches Wingspan: 16 inches Seasonality: Migrant
ID Keys: Habitat is good clue.  Also note buff face, head, and underparts, dark "scaly" looking back, yellow legs, round head, short bill.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper - Tryngites subruficollisThe Buff-breasted Sandpiper prefers the dry open ground of prairies and open agricultural fields rather than the shorelines and mudflats that many sandpipers prefer.  In many ways, they are more similar in appearance to plovers than they are to other sandpipers.  They were once abundant migrants through the state, but hunting in the 1800s and early 1900s severely depleted their numbers, and they've never fully recovered.

Habitat: Breeds on slopes of the Arctic Tundra, preferably near open water.  During migration, they are most often found on dry open areas, such as plowed fields, short-grass prairie, and grazed pasture. Mowed alfalfa fields are often used as well.

Diet: Primary food item is insects and spiders in all seasons.  They will also occasionally feed on seeds and small crustaceans.

Behavior: Feeds while walking, usually with quick walking or running with intermittent pauses as it searches for insects.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: Soft p-r-r-reek during migration through the state. Males also make a fast clucking sound on its summer breeding grounds.

Migration: Summers on the Arctic Tundra.  Winters on the pampas of Argentina.

Similar Species: Upland Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Ruff

Conservation Status: While once abundant, they are now quite uncommon.  Hunters killed a great many of these birds during the 1800s and early 1900s.  In addition, habitat destruction has taken a toll, especially on their migration routes and wintering grounds.

Further Information: 1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Buff-breasted Sandpiper

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Buff-breasted Sandpiper"

3) -- Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Photo Information: August 1st, 2008 - Kingsbury County, South Dakota - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Buff-breasted Sandpiper photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Buff-breasted Sandpiper - Tryngites subruficollis - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Rare migrant, primarily in the eastern part of the state.