Comprehensive Guide to selected species of:
Birds of the Boreal Forest « back to Guide
Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla
Family: Sandpipers, Scolopacidae
Audio: Martyn Stewart, © Naturesound.org
An estimated 29% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.
Description 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. Bill black and short, drooping slightly at tip; noticeably stouter than bill of Least Sandpiper.
Habitat Breeds on tundra; winters on and migrates along coastal beaches, lake and river shores, mudflats, and pools in salt marshes.
Nesting 4 buff eggs, marked with brown, in a depression on the ground.
Voice A sharp cheh or churk, not as drawn out as the notes of the Least and Western sandpipers.
Range Breeds in northern Alaska and Canada south to Hudson Bay. Migrates commonly through eastern and central states, rarely but regularly in West. Winters in South America.
Discussion These small sandpipers are perhaps the most numerous shorebirds in North America, sometimes occurring by the thousands during migration. Often they are found on mudflats feeding together with their close relatives, the Least and Western sandpipers. The word "Semipalmated," referring to the birds' toes, means "half-webbed." Actually the toes are only slightly lobed at their bases, but they do help the birds to walk on mud without sinking.