Buff-breasted SandpiperCalidris subruficollis
- ORDER: Charadriiformes
- FAMILY: Scolopacidae
The slender Buff-breasted Sandpiper, with its warm tones, neat streaking, and wide-eyed expression, is one of the most delicately beautiful of the shorebirds. On the High Arctic breeding grounds, males erupt into an ebullient display with wings raised over the head, bill pointed to the sky, and breast puffed out to extraordinary dimensions. Unlike most shorebirds, Buff-breasted Sandpipers forage in dry, grassy habitats, not wetlands. Sadly, extensive loss of grasslands along its migration route has contributed to heavy population declines.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Look for Buff-breasted Sandpipers during spring and fall migration, especially in the center of the continent. Scan carefully across pale dry fields for this pale brown bird, preferably with a spotting scope if you have one or can borrow a look from a fellow birder. Ideal places to look include sod farms, plowed fields, harvested potato fields, and shortgrass prairies. Look for them among American Golden-Plovers and Baird’s, Pectoral, and Upland Sandpipers.
- Correlimos Canelo (Spanish)
- Bécasseau roussâtre (French)
- Cool Facts
- The Buff-breasted Sandpiper is unique among North American shorebirds in having a lek mating system. Males gather fairly close together and display for females. After mating, females raise their chicks without any help from the male.
- Lekking behavior is common among grouse but very unusual in shorebirds: the Ruff and Great Snipe of Eurasian are the only other lekking shorebirds.
- Displaying Buff-breasted Sandpipers need their space. In most lekking species the males display right next to each other. Ruffs are more spread out, though still close enough to see each other—a system known as an "exploded lek."
- Unlike in some lekking species (such as grouse), in which just a few dominant males have the privileges of mating, male Buff-breasted Sandpipers all appear to have mating opportunities, and studies of paternity indicate that most sire 1-4 young during the breeding season.