Living Bird Magazine
Solitary SandpiperTringa solitaria
- ORDER: Charadriiformes
- FAMILY: Scolopacidae
The natty Solitary Sandpiper, with its olive-gray wings, black-and-white tail, and bold eyering, is a distinctive exception among the many lookalike sandpipers. Its helpful habit of bobbing the back half of its body or trembling its tail (and often feet) while foraging make it instantly recognizable. In flight, look for blackish underwings against a white belly, a pattern unique among North American shorebirds. As the name suggests, this species is normally seen singly. On migration, it turns up very widely, even in very small or temporary wetlands.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Most birders see Solitary Sandpipers during migration, when they are most reliably found in May (almost never in June) and August. Look for them in quiet freshwater wetlands and wooded swamps, places with few other shorebird species other than occasional Spotted Sandpipers. Other good places to look include streams, ditches, or flooded fields with muddy margins and lightly wooded edges, recently logged areas with standing water, meadows or marshes with pools, and even large rain puddles in urban areas.
- Andarríos Solitario (Spanish)
- Chevalier solitaire (French)
- Cool Facts
- Although the Solitary Sandpiper was first described by ornithologist Alexander Wilson in 1813, its nest was not discovered until 1903. Until that time, eggs and young of the Spotted Sandpiper were misidentified as those of the Solitary Sandpiper.
- The Solitary Sandpiper lays its eggs in old nests of several different songbirds, particularly those of the American Robin, Rusty Blackbird, Eastern Kingbird, Canada Jay, and Cedar Waxwing.
- Of the world's 85 sandpiper species, only the Solitary Sandpiper and the Green Sandpiper of Eurasia routinely lay eggs in tree nests instead of on the ground.