Semipalmated Sandpiper

Calidris pusilla




Sandpipers, Phalaropes (Scolopacidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

White to olive buff blotched with brown.

Number of Eggs:

2 - 4

Incubation Days:

18 - 22

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

On ground.

Nest Material:

Lined with grass.





Semipalmated Sandpiper: Small sandpiper with short neck; dull, scaled gray-brown upperparts, dark centers to scapulars; breast and flanks have dark streaks; white underparts; black center of rump and tail. Bill is short, stout, may droop slightly at the tip. Legs are black and moderately long, feet are black; toes partly webbed. Sexes are similar. Female is larger. Winter adult is gray-brown; face, breast and flanks are white; faint lateral breast patches; dark crown and eye stripe. Juvenile has varying amounts of rufous on scapulars and mantle.

Range and Habitat

Semipalmated Sandpiper: Breeds in lower Arctic regions from western Alaska to Labrador. Migrates through central North America to the Atlantic coast to reach its wintering grounds, which extend from the extreme southern U.S. to the Caribbean Islands and South America. Preferred habitats include shorelines and mudflats.

Breeding and Nesting

Semipalmated Sandpiper: Two to four brown blotched, white to olive buff eggs are laid in a ground hollow lined with grass. Incubation ranges from 18 to 22 days and is carried out by both parents. Female abandons young after few days. First flight is at 14 to 19 days.

Foraging and Feeding

Semipalmated Sandpiper: They feed on small arthropods, amphipods, mollusks, polychaetes and annelids in fresh or salt water, and also eat insects and spiders. In coastal areas, foraging is usually regulated by the tidal cycle. Elsewhere, they forage along the edges of lakes, in open alkali ponds and in sewage lagoons. They feed by pecking and probing, or by slurping biofilm or ostracods, when abundant.


Semipalmated Sandpiper: Utters a short "churk" or "churp"; gives a monotonous "kee-kee-kee-kee" when breeding.

Similar Species

Semipalmated Sandpiper: Least Sandpiper is browner and has yellow legs. Western Sandpiper has longer bill.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The upper front part of a bird.
The crown is the top part of the birds head.
The front part of the head consisting of the bill, eyes, cheeks and chin.
The upper surface of the back and wings covered with shorter feathers.
The area between the uppertail coverts and the back of the bird.
Short feathers in the area where the bird’s back and wings join.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X