Western SandpiperCalidris mauri

adult, breeding
Arthur Morris/VIREO
adult, nonbreeding
Richard Crossley/VIREO
Jukka Jantunen/VIREO
adult, breeding
Arthur Morris/VIREO
adult, nonbreeding
Greg Lasley/VIREO
adults, nonbreeding
Patricio Robles Gil/VIREO
Western Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper



6 1/2" (17 cm). Similar to Semipalmated Sandpiper and not always easy to distinguish, but bill tends to be longer, with more evident droop at tip. In summer, crown and upper back rusty; in winter, crown and upper back dull gray.


A soft cheep or kreep, higher and thinner than that of Semipalmated.


alarm calls
more calls
calls & flight
song & calls


Shores, mudflats, grassy pools, and wet meadows.


Breeds in northern and western Alaska. Winters mainly along coast from California and Virginia southward to South America.


This species often associates with the slightly smaller Semipalmated Sandpipers. Western Sandpipers usually feed in deeper water than the other "peeps" (small sandpipers) and sometimes immerse their bills completely. In all other respects, these sandpipers are much alike in their behavior and are difficult to distinguish in the field. The flocks of these "peeps" that spread out on mudflats during fall and winter take to flight readily when an intruder nears. When the tide covers their shallow feeding grounds, the flocks move to higher ground; there they preen themselves, rest, and wait for the next low tide, when they can resume feeding.


4 creamy eggs, with red-brown spots, in a grass-lined depression on either wet or dry tundra.

Similar Species

adult, breeding

Baird's Sandpiper

7 1/2" (19 cm). A slender "peep" with a short straight bill; larger than Least, Semipalmated, and Western sandpipers; about the same size as White-rumped.

adult male, breeding

Curlew Sandpiper

8" (20 cm). Similar in size and shape to Dunlin, but entire bill noticeably curved. Summer adults are rich cinnamon or chestnut. Winter birds gray above and white below.

adult, breeding

White-rumped Sandpiper

7 1/2" (19 cm). A slender "peep" (small sandpiper) with a short straight bill and a white rump. About the same size as Baird's Sandpiper; larger than Least, Semipalmated, and Western sandpipers.

adult, breeding

Pectoral Sandpiper

9" (23 cm). A chunky, somewhat short-legged wader with heavily streaked breast sharply delineated from unmarked white belly. Legs yellow. In flight, wings dark with no prominent stripe.

adult, breeding

Least Sandpiper

6" (15 cm). The smallest of American shorebirds. Brownish above, with yellowish or greenish legs, short thin bill, and streaked breast. Grayer in winter plumage.

adult, breeding Pribilof Islands

Rock Sandpiper

8-9" (20-23 cm). A small, rock-dwelling sandpiper. Winter birds plain slate-gray on head, breast, and upperparts; dark bill has pale base.

adult, breeding

Semipalmated Sandpiper

5 1/2-6 3/4" (14-17 cm). Slightly larger than a Least Sandpiper. In all plumages, grayer above with less-streaked breast than other "peeps." Feet black.

adult, breeding

Red-necked Stint

6 1/2" (17 cm). A small sandpiper. In breeding plumage, face, neck, and upper breast rufous, with white chin spot, and rest of underparts white; upperparts rufous and brown with black blotches.


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