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Spotted Sandpiper


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The dapper Spotted Sandpiper makes a great ambassador for the notoriously difficult-to-identify shorebirds. They occur all across North America, they are distinctive in both looks and actions, and they're handsome. They also have intriguing social lives in which females take the lead and males raise the young. With their richly spotted breeding plumage, teetering gait, stuttering wingbeats, and showy courtship dances, this bird is among the most notable and memorable shorebirds in North America.


  • Song sequence with weet notes throughout
  • Courtesy of Macaulay Library
    © Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Spotted Sandpipers use a rapid string of about 10 weet calls in the same manner as a song, for courtship and to communicate between pairs.


When alarmed, Spotted Sandpipers may give a pair of weet notes or, if warning chicks, make a metallic spink. Walking toward the nest, they make a simple pink sound, often three times in a row. The alarm call is similar to the song except rather than a long string of notes, it is in pairs, followed by a brief pause. Spotted Sandpipers also use a courtship song between a mated pair that has a series of soft pips before the standard song. If they are surprised while incubating, they may let out a loud squeal.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Find This Bird

Though you may think of the beach as the best place to see a sandpiper, look for Spotted Sandpipers alone or in pairs along the shores of lakes, rivers, and streams. Once in flight, watch for their stuttering wingbeats, or look for them teetering along rocky banks or logs.



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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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