Surfbird Life History


Habitat ShorelinesBreeds in stony alpine tundra. Winters on wave-beaten rocky shores.Back to top


Food Aquatic invertebratesAquatic invertebrates and insects.Back to top


Behavior Ground ForagerRuns over rocks chasing prey, moving continuously. Pulls mussels and barnacles from rocks and swallows them whole.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernThere is little information on Surfbird population size and trends. A 2012 study found no new information to update the 2006 population estimate of 70,000 breeding birds in North America. Overall, the species appears stable. Surfbird is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List.Back to top


Andres, B. A., P. A. Smith, R. I. G. Morrison, C. L. Gratto-Trevor, S. C. Brown and C. A. Friis. (2012a). Population estimates of North American shorebirds, 2012. Wader Study Group Bulletin 119 (3):178-194.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. (2014). The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Senner, Stanley E. and Brian J. McCaffery. (1997). Surfbird (Calidris virgata), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

Back to top

Looking for ID Help?

Get Instant ID help for 650+ North American birds.

Try Merlin Bird ID