Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla


The Semipalmated Sandpiper is often thought of as the eastern replacement for the Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri). In fact this is too simple a view. The two species breed side by side in northern Alaska, actually Semipalmated Sandpipers are found in a large proportion of the breeding range of the Western. It is true however that the Semipalmated Sandpiper’s breeding range extends well east of the Western Sandpiper’s, to Labrador. During migration Semipalmated Sandpipers do move south in a southeast direction, congregating in the Atlantic before continuing south to Central and South America. In winter Semipalmated Sandpipers are largely coastal, and found in the Pacific, Caribbean and Atlantic coasts. They winter farther south on average than Western Sandpipers and typically Semipalmated Sandpiper will not be found as far north as the United States in winter. The Semipalmated Sandpiper is a modestly plumaged sandpiper, lacking the bright rufous color of the Western, even in breeding plumage. Structurally the Semipalmated Sandpiper is relatively short billed, with a bill which is thick to the tip, making it appear short and blunt. Females average longer billed than males, and curiously the eastern breeding populations are noticeably longer billed than the western populations.

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© Gerrit Vyn

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

Recommended Citation

Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: