Semipalmated Sandpiper

Semipalmated sandpiper

Semipalmated Sandpipers are one of the most familiar species in eastern Northern America. 

Breeding adults have a reddish, gray, and brown coloring on their heads with some mottling of the same colors on their backs. They are white underneath and their bills are thin, straight, tubular, and black. Their legs are black. 

Nonbreeding adult Semipalmated Sandpipers are paler in comparison and are grayish-brown. Juveniles appear similar to nonbreeding adults but they have a more scaly pattern on their backs and wings.

  • Calidris pusilla
  • Length: 5.9 – 7.1 in (15 – 18 cm)
  • Weight: 0.6 – 1.8 oz (18 – 51.5 g)
  • Wingspan: 13.8 – 14.6 in (35 – 37 cm)


Semipalmated Sandpipers breed in Canada and the eastern US and migrate to Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Habitat and Diet

You can find Semipalmated Sandpipers, usually in flocks of hundreds or thousands, in coastal mudflats during spring and fall migration. Their breeding habitat is on low tundra not too far from marshes or ponds.  

Semipalmated Sandpipers forage in shallow water on mudflats for aquatic insects like snails, worms, and crustaceans. 

Semipalmated Sandpiper calls:


Nests of Semipalmated Sandpipers shallow scrapes built by males. Females add grass, sedge, moss and leaves from willow or birch. She will then lay four eggs which both parents incubate for about twenty days. 

Fun Facts:

The Semipalmated Sandpiper gets its name “Semipalmated” from the short webs between its toes, as “palmated” means “webbed”.