Semipalmated Sandpiper

Calidris pusilla
A Semipalmated Sandpiper specimen on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A small (5 ½ -6 ½ inches) sandpiper, the Semipalmated Sandpiper may be identified by its size), short wings, and dark legs. In summer, this species is mottled brown above with a white belly, streaked breast and throat, and pale white eye-stripes. In winter, this species becomes darker and duller than in summer. Male and female Semipalmated Sandpipers are similar to one another in all seasons. The Semipalmated Sandpiper breeds in high arctic Siberia, Alaska, and Canada south to the Hudson Bay. This species is a long-distance migrant, wintering from Central America and the West Indies south to southern South America. On migration, this species may be seen in the eastern United States and Canada, both in the interior and along the coast. Semipalmated Sandpipers primarily breed on wet tundra. This species may be found in wet grasslands and marshes while on migration, occurring in these habitats (as well as mangroves) during the winter. This species primarily eats insects and larvae, but may also take small snails, crustaceans, and fish. Due to its remote breeding habitat, most birdwatchers never see the Semipalmated Sandpiper during the summer. This species is more likely to be seen in winter and on migration, where it may be observed along the shore probing the mud for food with its bill. Semipalmated Sandpipers are primarily active during the day.

DC Information

Very common migrant from April to June and from July through November. Occasionally some remain in summer or winter. Found on mud flats and beaches. Upper parts are brown in spring, gray in autumn. The sexes are alike.

Specimen Information

Date: 5/24/1926
Collected By: Dr Paul Bartsch
Locality: Columbia Island, Washington DC
Sex: Female
Catalog ID: 306541

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalization

Sound from xeno-canto. XC16954 Calidris pusilla (Semipalmated Sandpiper)