The Stilt Sandpiper is
very similar in shape to one of the yellowlegs,
but is more closely related to the tiniest of the sandpipers. When
feeding, they tend to act like a dowitcher,
probing mudflats and shallow water with their long bills. They are often less
shy than other sandpipers, a trait which led to a severe decline as hunters
targeted them in the 1800s. Their numbers have recovered nicely, however,
and are still thought to be increasing. They are a relatively common
migrant through South Dakota, as they prefer to forage in shallow freshwater
areas, not saltwater tidal areas like some of their relatives. The bird
shown to the right is dressed in the much drabber winter plumage. Birds in
breeding plumage are more brightly marked with distinctive chestnut colored ear
Habitat: Breeds on wet meadows of the
Arctic Tundra. In winter and in migration, they are most often found on
shallow freshwater areas such as shallow ponds and lakes, and marshes with
expanses of shallow open water.
Diet: Feeds on a variety of items
including aquatic insects and their larvae, marine worms, small crustaceans and
mollusks, and parts of aquatic plants.
Behavior: Feeds by wading in shallow water,
probing in the mud below for food items, or plucking food items from the
surface of the water.
Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota
Song: Low twew.
Also has a variety of coarse calls and whines on its summer breeding
Migration: Summers in the high Arctic. A few winter in
the extreme southern U.S. along the Gulf and Atlantic coastlines and at the
Salton Sea, but the majority migrate to South America.
Similar Species: Lesser Yellowlegs, Curlew Sandpiper
Conservation Status: Populations appear to be
increasing in recent decades.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology - Stilt Sandpiper
-- Stilt Sandpiper
Photo Information: September 30th, 2004 -- Lake
Thompson -- Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Stilt Sandpiper photos.