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Pectoral Sandpiper - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by notason
Quebec, Canada
Calidris melanotos


19-23 cm

  • Bill:
  • brownish-black
  • black tip
  • base often tinged olive-green or yellow-green, especially on lower mandible
  • Yellow legs
  • Colour of feet varies from brownish-yellow through greenish-yellow to olive-green
  • Black patch on rump extending onto tail
  • Thin, white wing stripe
  • Dark brown Iris

Sexes similar in plumage but male 25–30% larger in weight than female.
Juvenile: bill and feet are blackish-grey at fledging

Photo © by John Keep
Walton On The Naze, Essex, England, September 2007

Similar Species

Flight recalls Ruff


Breeds in north-east Siberia and northern North America from Alaska to Hudson Bay. Winters in southern South America from southern Bolivia and northern Argentina to Paraguay, but in smaller numbers in Pacific to Australia and New Zealand.

In autumn most migrate via the Great Plains during July-September but large numbers gather at staging areas in south-east Canada and the north-eastern USA before flying south over the west Atlantic to South America. These birds are liable to meet with eastbound depressions bringing them across the Atlantic to Europe.

Expanded air sac used in flight display
Photo © by Oppie
Horicon Marsh, Wisconsin, USA, July 2012
Click on image to enlarge

Spring migration is mainly in April-early May and via the interior.

This is by far the most numerous Nearctic wader to occur in Europe and has been recorded in many countries from Iceland and the Faroes south to the Azores and east to Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, also in Morocco and Israel. Annual in the British Isles, the Azores, France and Sweden.

Over 100 records in the British Isles in some years, seen throughout Britain and Ireland with most in the south-west but significant numbers in the east suggesting a Siberian rather than North American origin for many birds. Recorded throughout the year but very rare in midwinter and dramatically peaking in September-October.


This is a monotypic species[1].


Freshwater habitats, coastal areas with damp grassland, marshland and the margins of ponds and lakes.



These birds forage on grasslands and mudflats, diet includes insects and other invertebrates.


Flight Call: A throaty krik

On the breeding grounds, male will blow up the throat area so the feathers stand on end; this results in a much darker impression of this area than normal. Additionally, a throat sac is filled with air that is then let out again resulting in a rhythmic series of hollow hoots, usually given in a display flight given by the male.


  1. Clements, JF. 2011. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to August 2011. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/downloadable-clements-checklist
  2. Collins Field Guide 5th Edition
  3. Collins Bird Guide ISBN 0 00 219728 6
  4. Parmelee et al. 1967

Recommended Citation

External Links

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