Solitary Sandpiper

Tringa solitaria
A Solitary Sandpiper specimen on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A medium-sized (8-9 inches) sandpiper, the Solitary Sandpiper, is most easily identified by its dark gray back and wings, streaked neck, straight bill, and dull greenish legs. In winter, this species becomes slightly duller-plumaged overall. This species may be separated from the related Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) by that species’ yellow legs and paler plumage and from the similarly-sized Stilt Sandpiper (Calidris himantopus) by that species’ larger size and curved bill. Male and female Solitary Sandpipers are similar to one another in all seasons. The Solitary Sandpiper primarily breeds in Alaska and central Canada. This species is a long-distance migrant, wintering from Texas and the Bahamas south to southern South America. Solitary Sandpipers migrate through the Caribbean, along both coasts of North America, and in the interior of the continent. Solitary Sandpipers primarily breed in freshwater marshes surrounded by northern evergreen forests. In winter and on migration, this species may be found in a number of wetland habitats, including freshwater or saltwater marshes, flooded grasslands, and estuaries. Solitary Sandpipers mainly eat small invertebrates, including insects, aquatic worms, and mollusks. Due to its remote breeding habitat, most birdwatchers never see Solitary Sandpipers during the summer. On migration or during the winter, this species may be seen probing the mud for food with its bill while wading in shallow water. Solitary Sandpipers are primarily active during the day.

DC Information

Common migrant in April and May and in August and September. Found along mud flats and stream edges, usually near fresh water. The upper parts are uniformly gray-brown in autumn, streaked with white in spring. Sexes are similar.

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC17025 Tringa solitaria (Solitary Sandpiper)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC48600 Tringa solitaria (Solitary Sandpiper)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC48601 Tringa solitaria (Solitary Sandpiper)