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IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A stocky shorebird living among the wave-tossed rocks of the Pacific Coast, the Surfbird is rarely found away from the splash and spray of incoming waves. Only to breed does it leave the coast for the rocky mountain ridges of Alaska and the Yukon.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
9.4–10.2 in
24–26 cm
4.7–8.1 oz
133–230 g
Other Names
  • Bécasseau du ressac (French)
  • Playero de Marejada (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Surfbird's winter range is among the longest and narrowest of any North American breeding bird. During the winter it can be found from Alaska to the Strait of Magellan, Chile, a distance of more than 17,500 km, and the winter range extends inland only a few meters above the tide line.



Breeds in stony alpine tundra. Winters on wave-beaten rocky shores.



Aquatic invertebrates and insects.


Nest Placement



Ground Forager

Runs over rocks chasing prey, moving continuously. Pulls mussels and barnacles from rocks and swallows them whole.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

There 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.


  • Senner, S. E., and B. J. McCaffery. 1997. Surfbird (Aphriza virgata). In The Birds of North America, No. 266 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
  • Andres, B.A., P.A. Smith, R.I.G. Morrison, C.L. Gratto-Trevor, S.C. Brown, and C.A. Friis. 2012. Population estimates of North American Shorebirds, 2012. Wader Study Group Bulletin 119:178–194. Available from the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan website.
  • North American Bird Conservation Initiative, U.S. Committee. 2014. State of the Birds 2014 Report. U.S. Department of Interior, Washington, DC.

Range Map Help

Surfbird Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings


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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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