- ORDER: Charadriiformes
- FAMILY: Scolopacidae
Of the many small sandpipers known as "peeps," the Semipalmated Sandpiper is the most familiar species in eastern North America. Look for this tiny shorebird, barely bigger than a sparrow, at classic coastal migration spots as well as in reliable shorebird patches inland. These small but assertive sandpipers seem to be in constant movement, rapidly pecking for tiny prey on mudflats and endlessly chasing off other "semis" that attempt to feed near them. Their numbers have declined recently, landing the species on the Yellow Watch List.More ID Info
Find This Bird
In eastern and central U.S. and Canada, look for Semipalmated Sandpipers during spring and fall migration. Hundreds at a time stop over at traditional spots on coastal mudflats, where they spend days fattening up for the next leg of migration. Away from the coasts, look for them on wide-open wetlands or muddy edges. Storms often ground migrating shorebirds briefly, so check shortgrass fields, sod farms, and flooded farm fields after rains in April–May and July–September. In the West, Semipalmateds are scarce south of British Columbia.
- Correlimos Semipalmeado (Spanish)
- Bécasseau semipalmé (French)
- Cool Facts
- Some Semipalmated Sandpipers from eastern populations probably fly nonstop across the ocean from New England to South America (some 2,500 miles), powered by extensive fat reserves.
- Semipalmated Sandpipers migrating through the Bay of Fundy, Canada, used to spend much of their time fighting over feeding space—and as a result it often took 2 weeks to fatten up before continuing their migration. But after Peregrine Falcons were reintroduced to the area in the 1980s, the birds spent more time scanning the skies and less time squabbling. Without all the infighting, they foraged more efficiently and spent only 7–8 days at the site before moving on.
- The Semipalmated Sandpiper gets its common name from the short webs between its toes (“palmated” means webbed). The Western Sandpiper is the only other small sandpiper with similarly webbed toes.
- The oldest recorded Semipalmated Sandpiper was at least 14 years, 2 months old when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding in Nova Scotia, Canada.