Purple Sandpiper

Calidris maritima




Sandpipers, Phalaropes (Scolopacidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Olive buff blotched with brown or black

Number of Eggs:

3 - 4

Incubation Days:

21 - 22

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

On open rocky ground.

Nest Material:

Leaves, grass.





Purple Sandpiper: Medium-sized sandpiper built for life on coastal rocks amid crashing surf. Upperparts are scaled gray-brown, crown is dark, and white underparts are streaked. Bill is dark with a yellow base and slightly decurved. Wings have large white stripes visible in flight; tail has dark central stripe above and is white below. Sexes are similar. Winter adult is duller, grayer and has plain gray head with distinct white eye-ring. Juvenile resembles winter adult but has a more distinct scaled pattern and paler head.

Range and Habitat

Purple Sandpiper: Found along the rocky shorelines along the Atlantic Coast during the fall and winter months. Winter r range extends along the coast from Quebec to South Carolina, although it is rarely spotted as far south as Florida. Arrive at their wintering grounds from September to November and return to their breeding grounds in the northern Canadian Arctic in April or May.

Breeding and Nesting

Purple Sandpiper: Lays three to four olive buff eggs blotched with brown or black in a small hollow in the ground. Male makes up to 5 nest scrapes, female finishes one and may line it with bits of vegetation. Incubation takes about 21 to 22 days and is carried out by both sexes. Young fly at 21 days.

Foraging and Feeding

Purple Sandpiper: Picks food from rocks among crashing waves. Feeds mainly on crustaceans, insects, and small mollusks.


Purple Sandpiper: Usual call is loud "wit."

Similar Species

Purple Sandpiper: Winter Dunlin has a longer, darker bill, dark legs, and is paler brown-gray.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The crown is the top part of the birds head.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X