Comprehensive Guide to selected species of:
Birds of the Boreal Forest « back to Guide
Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos
Family: Sandpipers, Scolopacidae
Audio: Martyn Stewart, © Naturesound.org
An estimated 54% of the boreal forest of Alaska and Canada lies within the migratory pathway of this species.
Description 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.
Habitat Breeds on tundra; during migration visits moist grassy places, grass-lined pools, golf courses and airports after heavy rains, and salt creeks and meadows.
Nesting 4 buff-white eggs, marked with brown, in a slight depression in boggy tundra.
Voice A dull krrrrp.
Range Breeds on Arctic coasts from Alaska east to Hudson Bay. Migrates along Atlantic and Pacific coasts and through interior. Winters in southern South America.
Discussion In the days when shorebirds were shot as game, hunters called this species the "Grass Snipe," referring to its liking for grassy meadows, or "Krieker," because of its grating snipe-like flight call. During the short Arctic breeding season food is at a premium. To ensure an adequate supply for the young, male Pectoral Sandpipers depart for the south before the eggs hatch, so they don't compete for food with the mothers and their chicks. Then the adult females leave, too, and in the last few weeks the young have the tundra to themselves.