Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla


The Least Sandpiper is the smallest of the New World species in the genus Calidris, so least is an appropriate moniker for this small shorebird. Of the “peeps” or small Calidris species, the Least is the only one in the New World with greenish or yellowish legs, all other peeps are dark legged. Least Sandpipers breed throughout the North American taiga in bogs and muskeg, as well as the southern edge of tundra. They migrate south coastally and through the interior, and they may winter as far north as Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada or as far south as northern and central Chile in South America. The Least Sandpiper has a preference for foraging in drier mud, often where there is vegetation. It is not a sandpiper that is commonly found foraging in water. Overall it is a rather brown looking sandpiper, with relatively strong brownish streaking on the breast. Often it forages in a crouched style, with the legs bent; structurally it has a medium length bill with a very finely pointed bill, and rather long toes. It is a species that picks food from the surface more than digging or probing for food in mud. While this species flocks, it does not form large flocks and even a dozen flying together is something you seldom see. Often they will join in flocks of other more gregarious species such as Semipalmated (C. pusilla) or Western (C. mauri) sandpipers.

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© Gerrit Vyn

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/leasan