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Baird's Sandpiper - BirdForum Opus

Spring adult
Photo © by DJ ODonnell
Loveland, Colorado, USA, April 2013
Calidris bairdii


Photo © by Michael W
UCA Sewer Ponds, Spangle, Spokane County, Washington, USA, September 2005

14-17.5cm (5½-7 in)
Breeding adult

  • Blackish-brown crown
  • Gray-buff upperparts with 'scaly' appearance
  • Whitish underparts
  • Brownish breast
  • Wing tips extend well past tail
  • Black rump
  • Narrow, fine-tipped bill
  • Pale supercilium
  • Short legs

Winter adult plumage similar; upperparts are plainer, with pale feather edges
Juvenile: head and breast markedly buff, with upperparts a little greyer, and giving a very scaly impression

Similar Species

Compared to most other species, look for very long wings creating an elongated profile. This is to some extent shared with Sanderling and White-rumped Sandpiper, and especially compared to the latter, look for all black, straighter bill and shorter legs.


Photo © by rayh
Flamborough Head, North Yorkshire, October 2004

Breeds in north-east Siberia on Wrangel Island and the Chukotski Peninsula and across northern North America to Greenland.

In winter found in South America from southern Ecuador to Tierra del Fuego. Main migratory route in autumn is via the Great Plains in late July-August, juveniles migrate rather later and sometimes wander to eastern Canada. Spring movement across North America is mainly in April-early May, again most travel through the interior.

In the Western Palearctic recorded in many European countries north to Iceland, Scandinavia and Poland and south to Greece, also on the Azores. However, most records come from Britain (c.170) where now up to 6 are recorded annually, mainly in July-October and very occasionally in spring. Most occur in the south-west but there have been many east coast records, suggesting that some may arrive from the east.


This is a monotypic species[1].

Photo © by IanF
Seaton Snook, Seaton Carew. UK, September 2012


Usually seen on freshwater marshes, riverbanks and lakesides rather than coastal habitats but also on coastal and brackish marshes and adjacent grassland.



Breeding season starts in June, sometimes early July. A monogamous species. The nest on the ground, usually in dry locations with low vegetation. Lays four, sometimes three eggs.


During breeding season the diet consists mainly of insects. On migration feeds on larvae of beetles, Diptera, Coleoptera and Lepidoptera. Pecks up prey with quick bill jabs, generally shows a brisk feeding action.


A migratory species, many birds migrate inland across the North American prairies, Rockies and northern Andes, resting at high-altitude lakes.
Adults depart in early July from breeding grounds, failed breeders from late June. Females slightly preceding males. Juveniles migrate later from their breeding grounds, in late July, reaching Patagonia in early October.


Call: a purring prrreet


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Collins Field Guide 5th Edition
  3. Collins Bird Guide ISBN 0 00 219728 6
  4. USGS
  5. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved March 2017)
  6. Wikipedia

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