Western Sandpiper

Calidris mauri

Although it has a rather restricted breeding range in western Alaska, the Western Sandpiper is one of the most abundant shorebirds in North America.

Interesting Information

In migration, the Western Sandpiper stages in huge, spectacular flocks, particularly along the Pacific coast from San Francisco Bay to the Copper River Delta in Alaska. Estimates suggest that as many as 6,500,000 individuals pass through the Copper River Delta during just a few weeks each spring.


Adult Description

  • Length Range: 15-18 cm (6-7 in)

  • Weight: 23 g (0.8 oz)

  • Size: Small (5 - 9 in)

  • Color Primary: Brown

  • Underparts: White with rows of red-brown chevrons.

  • Upperparts: Red-brown, black and buff mottled.

  • Back Pattern: Striped or streaked

  • Belly Pattern: Solid

  • Breast Pattern: Striped or streaked

Small sandpiper. Short neck. Moderately long bill, with slight droop. Moderately long legs. Black center of rump and tail. Legs black. Back gray-brown with some reddish. Chest usually only lightly marked. In breeding plumage has chestnut on back, crown, and back of face. Short webbing between toes (hard to see).

Sex Differences

Sexes Similar


Juvenile similar to adult, but with more scaly pattern on back.


Photo taken from: The Sibley Field Guide by David Allen Sibley

© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Breeds in coastal sedge-dwarf tundra. Migrates and winters along mudflats, beaches, shores or lakes and ponds, and flooded fields.


Probes mudflats and shallows for prey.


Diet consists of small crustaceans, minnows, earthworms, and aquatic insects.



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Scolopacidae
Genus: Calidris
Species: Calidris mauri

Similar Species

  • Semipalmated Sandpiper very similar, but usually has shorter, less drooping bill.

  • Least Sandpiper has a more reddish back, more distinct markings on the chest, and yellow legs.

Bird Sound

Call a thin "jeet."

Eggs look like this

Photo taken from: ARCTOS Collaborative Collection Management Solution