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Western Sandpiper - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by alibenn
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, August 2004
Calidris mauri


14–17 cm (5½-6¾ in)
Dark legs with partially webbed toes (much as Semipalmated Sandpiper), short thin dark bill, thinner at the tip with a kink that gives an impression of a downturned bill. Most birds have longer bills than Semipalmated Sandpiper but there is much overlap.
Breeding: pale basic color with many dark spots on underside and mantle, scapulars reddish-brown with black centers, reddish brown crown and ear-coverts. Semipalmated Sandpiper can also have reddish-brown but not as much as a fully marked western.
Winter: mostly pale grey upperside, white underside with whitish breast area. Semipalmated Sandpiper has darker ear-coverts and upper breast
Juvenile: rufous on upper scapulars producing a contrasting V on the back, pale breast and side and underside of head.

Breeding plumage
Photo © by djleahy
Pescadero Beach, California, May 2007


Breeds in eastern Siberia and Alaska. Migrates on both coasts of North America, far more common on the west coast where 4 million can be found in one area.

Winters in South America.


This is a monotypic species[1].


Tundra for breeding, especially with areas of dwarf birch; wetlands and mudflats.



Photo © by mrcolin2u
San Elijio, California, April 2006

They nest in scrapes on the ground usually under some vegetation. The female selects one of several scrapes prepared by the male. The clutch consists of 4 eggs which are incubated by both adults. The female often leaves before the young have fully fledged.


Their varied diet consists of larvae, pupae and adult insects, small crustaceans and molluscs.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2015. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2015, with updates to August 2015. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved July 2016)
  3. Wikipedia

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