Western Sandpiper Calidris mauri


This sandpiper is indeed most closely associated with the West in North America, as it is the most abundant migrant “peep” there. It also breeds in the West, being largely restricted to Alaska, although some do breed in adjacent Siberia. However on migration this sandpiper becomes common on both coasts and it is the expected wintering black-legged peep on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. So its name is a little deceiving. Similarly it can be found on the Pacific, Caribbean and Atlantic Coasts in South and Central America. In breeding plumage this is an outstanding looking peep with bold rufous feather bases on the upperparts, rufous on the crown and cheeks, and breast and flanks are adorned with dark chevrons, almost arrow-head shaped markings. In winter it is a dull greyish above and white below with black legs. Always useful is that this is a small Calidris with a rather long and droopy bill recalling a small Dunlin (Calidris alpina). The exact winter distribution of this species is a bit muddied given the problematic separation in non-breeding plumage between it and the similar Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla). However, good wintering concentrations are known from the Pacific coasts of Mexico, Panama and Ecuador. It winters north of the Semipalmated Sandpiper on average.

Help complete this species

There are many ways to contribute—we need species information, photographs, audio, video, translations, maps, distribution data, and bird sightings. There's a role for everyone!

Learn more

© Michael Andersen

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

Recommended Citation

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