Western sandpipers are small (adults are almost 20 centimetres long), with a white belly and black legs. In the winter they are dull brown-grey and have a long black bill, but during summer and breeding season they have reddish feathers on their head and red, black, brown and white feathers on their back and wings and a brown and white streaked breast.
Range & Habitat
They breed in Alaska and eastern Asia, and migrate down the Pacific coast in the winter, and some western sandpipers are found on the Atlantic coast of North America. They are almost always found near shorelines, except during the breeding period.
Diet & Behaviour
They eat small aquatic animals, including worms, shellfish and insects. They feed using their bill to drill small holes in the sand and mud.
Lifecycle & Threats
Western sandpipers migrate from the south in the winter to northern areas for breeding in summer. They build their nests on the ground, in clumps of grasses or shrubs, and lay three to five eggs. Both the male and female look after the eggs, and they take around 20 days to hatch. The young feed themselves, and they can fly after three weeks. Western sandpipers are threatened by habitat and population development, especially in their breeding territories and migration routes.
COSEWIC: Not at Risk
Photo: ALAN SCHMIERER