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Western Sandpiper

Calidris mauri

Length: 6 to 7 inches Wingspan: 12 to 14 inches Seasonality: Migrant
ID Keys: Bill drooped and generally longer than similar Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers,, black legs and feet.  Rusty stripe on scapulars in breeding plumage.
Western Sandpiper - Calidris mauri

The Western Sandpiper is a very close relative of the Semipalmated Sandpiper, and the two can be very difficult to differentiate between.  While many can be found on both U.S. coastlines during the winter, they also migrate southward as far as southern South America.    Massive flocks can be found in key migration stopover sites along the West Coast in the Fall.

Habitat: On summer breeding grounds, prefers tundra slopes with a low brush and nearby wetlands.  In migration and winter, they can be found on mudflats, sandy beaches, and tidal estuaries.

Diet: Primarily east insects, spiders, and small crustaceans on its summer breeding grounds.  In winter and in migration, diet varies by location, but may include amphipods, small crustaceans and mollusks, marine worms, insects, and seeds.

Behavior: Forages in shallow water, sandy beaches, or mudflats, walking along and probing in the mud for food, or picking food items directly from the surface.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: Thin cheet.

Migration: Breeds in Alaska and western Siberia.  Winters on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of North and South America.

Interactive eBird map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Western Sandpiper sightings

Similar Species: Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper

Conservation Status: Generally abundant, but vulnerable to declines from habitat loss due to its preference for a few key stopover points during migration.  While declines may currently be underway, the IUCN currently lists the Western Sandpiper to be a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) BirdWeb - Western Sandpiper

2) WhatBird - Western Sandpiper

3) Audubon Guide - Western Sandpiper

Photo Information: Photo courtesy of George Jameson


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Western Sandpiper - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Casual migrant.  Status is difficult to determine in the state, given the extreme difficulty in differentiating Western Sandpipers from the more common species that migrate through the state.

Additional Western Sandpiper Photos (coming soon!)