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Pectoral Sandpiper


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A medium-sized, chunky shorebird, the Pectoral Sandpiper is found most commonly on mudflats with short grass or weedy vegetation and seems more at home in the grass than in the water.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
8.7 in
22 cm
16.9 in
43 cm
1.4–3.7 oz
41–105 g
Other Names
  • Bécasseau a poitrine cendrée (French)
  • Playero pectoral, Correlimos pectoral (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The breeding male Pectoral Sandpiper has an inflatable throat sac, which expands and contracts rhythmically during display flights. The accompanying vocalization consists of a series of hollow hoots, and is one of the most unusual sounds heard in summer on the arctic tundra.
  • The oldest recorded Pectoral Sandpiper was at least 5 years, 11 months old when it was found in 1983 in El Salvador. It had been banded in Kansas in 1978.



Breeds in wet coastal tundra. Migrates and winters in wet meadows, mudflats, flooded fields, and shores of ponds and pools.




Nesting Facts
Condition at Hatching
Active and covered with down.
Nest Placement





status via IUCN

Least Concern

Pectoral Sandpiper were abundant in the 19th century, but populations were markedly reduced by market hunting. There is little information on current population trends, though numbers appear to be declining. In many migration surveys, these birds occur in vegetated habitats where they can be difficult to detect, and variable numbers are often recorded. However, overall, counts have declined since the early 1980s. A 2012 study estimates a North American population of 1.6 million. Pectoral Sandpiper are on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, which lists bird species that are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without conservation action.


  • Holmes, R. T., and F. A. Pitelka. 1998. Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos). In The Birds of North America, No. 348 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.
  • 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.
  • USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. 2015. Longevity records of North American Birds.

Range Map Help

Pectoral Sandpiper Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

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