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Semipalmated Sandpiper

The Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris or Erolia pusilla), is a very small shorebird. They are long distance migrants and winter in coastal South America with some going to the southern United States. They migrate in flocks which can number in the hundreds of thousands, particularly in favored feeding locations such as the Bay of Fundy and Delaware Bay. This species is a rare but regular vagrant to western Europe. Their breeding habitat is the southern tundra in Canada and Alaska near water.

Adults have black legs and a short stout straight dark bill. The body is dark grey-brown on top and white underneath. The head and neck are tinged light grey-brown. This bird can be difficult to distinguish from other similar tiny shorebirds, in particular the Western Sandpiper. These are known collectively as “peeps” or “stints”. These birds forage on mudflats, picking up food by sight and feel (bill). They mainly eat aquatic insects and crustaceans.

They nest on the ground. The male makes several shallow scrapes, the female chooses one and adds grass and other material to line the nest. The female lays 4 eggs. The male assists in incubation. After a few days, the female leaves the young with the male. The young feed themselves.

Semipalmated Sandpiper


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