Western Sandpiper

photo by Josef Kren

Calidris mauri
L 6 1/2″ (17 cm).

Song or calls:
High, grating “keeep,” often squeaky.

Description: Sexes similar. Long, tapered black bill, slightly decurved at tip. In breeding plumage rusty red above and white below; shows streaking or chevrons along sides, rust coloring at base of scapulars, and rusty crown and ear patch. Black legs. Wing tip does not extend beyond tip of tail. Winter plumage is gray above and white below, sometimes showing faint streaking. Juvenile lacks spotting and rusty facial markings, but rusty scapulars are distinctive.
Habitat: Migrating birds can be found on mud flats, shallow ponds, and open shorelines. Avoids dry areas and usually prefer to forage in deeper water than other peeps.

Where in Nebraska: Rare spring and uncommon fall migrant statewide, more common in the west.

Fun Facts: The Western Sandpiper gather in huge flocks for migration and a few weeks each spring as many as 6.5 million have been seen to pass through the Copper River Delta.

Western Sandpiper - photo by Josef Kren Western Sandpiper - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)