Pectoral Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpipers are stocky, medium-sized “grasspipers” that are frequently seen on grassy marshes instead of mudflats.

Breeding adults are streaked and scalloped brown with white bellies, yellow legs, and bills that are darker at the top than the base.

Nonbreeding adults have a similar pattern of heavy streaking but are mostly gray or light brown. Juveniles are similar but they have finely streaked heads, necks, and breasts. Their backs and wings are brown with rufous edges. 

  • Calidris melanotos
  • Length: 8 – 9.6 in (20 – 24 cm)
  • Weight: 2.6 oz (73 g)
  • Wingspan: 18 in (46 cm)


Pectoral Sandpipers breed in the arctic and Great Plains and migrate to South America and Australia.

Habitat and Diet

You can find Pectoral Sandpipers in grassy wetlands. Their breeding grounds are mostly in wet coastal tundra with a lot of grasses and sedges. 

Pectoral Sandpipers mostly eat aquatic insects, small crustaceans, and very small fish. They usually poke and probe through grass and mud with their bills.

Pectoral Sandpiper call:


Nests of Pectoral Sandpipers are often depressions built on dry, raised ground and lined with grass and moss.

She will then lay four eggs that hatch after twenty-two days. The male does not help protect the eggs or rear the young. The young can fly in about three weeks. 

Fun Fact:

Pectoral Sandpipers get their “Pectoral” name from the inflatable air sacs on the males’ throats which puff up during courtship displays.