Least Sandpiper

Silhouette SandpipersSandpipers

Least Sandpiper

Calidris minutilla
  • ORDER: Charadriiformes
  • FAMILY: Scolopacidae
Basic Description

Least Sandpipers are the smallest of the small sandpipers known as “peeps”—not much bigger than a sparrow. They have distinctive yellow-green legs and a high-pitched creep call. Look for them on edges of mudflats or marshes, where they walk with a hunched posture and probe for little crustaceans, insects, and other invertebrates. This common but declining shorebird migrates thousands of miles between its arctic breeding grounds and wintering grounds as far south as Chile and Brazil.

More ID Info
image of range map for Least SandpiperRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

Find This Bird

Least Sandpipers breed in the tundra of the far north, so most people see them during migration (April to May and July to October) or winter. Look for them on mudflats or protected beaches. They are easiest to find on the coasts, but are also plentiful as migrants on inland bodies of water. Once you find suitable habitat of wet mud or sand, scan the edges of the water and look for very small sandpipers, warm brown above and white below with a short, thin, slightly decurved bill. If you can see yellowish legs you’ll be able to narrow down this bird quickly; just keep in mind that their legs sometimes look dark from mud stains. Shorebird identification can be complicated, so it’s important to look closely and carefully.

Other Names
  • Correlimos Menudillo (Spanish)
  • Bécasseau minuscule (French)
  • Cool Facts