Living Bird Magazine
Stilt SandpiperCalidris himantopus
- ORDER: Charadriiformes
- FAMILY: Scolopacidae
An elegant shorebird perched on long, yellow-green legs, the Stilt Sandpiper is distinctive with its long, slightly curved bill. In breeding plumage, a bright chestnut crown and ear patch light up its neatly barred, brown-and-white plumage. Stilt Sandpipers forage in freshwater habitats and avoid the tidal mudflats used by so many sandpipers. They wade sometimes belly deep, probing for invertebrates in mud in a manner similar to the shorter-legged dowitchers. These long-distance migrants fly south through the middle of North America, then cross the Caribbean to winter in South America.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Look for this arctic-breeding species during spring and fall migration. Its affinity for freshwater means it may be easier to find in the central parts of North America, in places such as Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas, and the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, than on the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf coasts. To find the species, look for places where both dowitchers and yellowlegs congregate, then look for the “in between”-looking Stilt Sandpiper, with its distinctively if subtly decurved bill.
- Correlimos Zancolín (Spanish)
- Bécasseau à échasses (French)
- Cool Facts
- A long-term study of Stilt Sandpipers in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, uncovered an interesting fact: among mates pairing for the first time, the longest-billed female Stilt Sandpipers and the shortest-billed males tended to be the first to pair off.
- The main southward migration route of the Stilt Sandpiper passes through the middle of the continent, west of the Mississippi River. From here, in fall the species migrates over water to the Caribbean or northern South America. There, many birds pause to molt their flight feathers before continuing to winter haunts in inland South America.
- The oldest recorded Stilt Sandpiper was at least 11 years, 1 month old, when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Texas.