Least Sandpiper

Calidris minutilla




Sandpipers, Phalaropes (Scolopacidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Olive pink or buff with dark brown spots.

Number of Eggs:

3 - 4

Incubation Days:

19 - 23

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

Lined with grasses and moss.





Least Sandpiper: Small sandpiper with brown-scaled upperparts and rust-brown crown. Breast and throat are dark-spotted; belly and undertail white. Wings have thin white stripes visible in flight. Black line on rump extends onto tail. Legs and feet yellow. Winter adult has brown-gray upperparts with pale fringes; breast and throat streaked brown-gray. Sexes are similar; female is slightly larger and has a longer bill. Juvenile has a rufous cap, black-brown upperparts with white fringes that form a "V" on back, and buff-gray streaking on sides.

Range and Habitat

Least Sandpiper: Breeds from inland Alaska across northern Canada to Labrador and, in the east, south to Nova Scotia and once in Massachusetts. Spends winters from the Pacific coast, across the southern U.S. south to central South America and the West Indies. Frequents sandy beaches and exposed tidal flats.

Breeding and Nesting

Least Sandpiper: They nest in tufts of short marsh grass on damp ground. The male establishes the nesting area by making several scrapes in the ground. The female then chooses one for nesting. Three or four dark brown-spotted olive pink or buff eggs are laid in a ground depression lined with grass and moss. Incubation ranges from 19 to 23 days and is carried out by both parents.

Foraging and Feeding

Least Sandpiper: Their diet includes insects, seeds and aquatic invertebrates. They also eat crustaceans, marine worms and mollusks on the coast. These sandpipers tend to feed on the most abundant prey of suitable size that are present. They typically feed in a communal area distant from the nesting grounds, and forage by gleaning and probing on mudflats and beaches.


Least Sandpiper: When threatened, gives rapid, high, and giggling "dididididi" call. Fight call is a high, trilled, musical "preeep" or "pree-rreeep." When calling, the note is a shrill, high, "kree." During displays, a series of rising "b-b-b-tree-treeee-treee" notes are given.

Similar Species

Least Sandpiper: Semipalmated Sandpiper is slightly larger, has grayer upperparts, and black legs and feet.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
The upper front part of a bird.
The area on top of the head of the bird.
The crown is the top part of the birds head.
The area between the uppertail coverts and the back of the bird.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X