Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper - breeding
Spotted sandpiper, Actitis macularis - non-breeding

Spotted Sandpipers are slender, medium-sized shorebirds with brown spots on their white undersides. They have a distinctive dancing walk

Their backs are brown. They have a distinctive white stripe over the eye.

Non-breeding adults and juvenile Spotted Sandpipers are similar in that they have no spots and have light brown coloring on their backs and chest.

While males and females are also similar, females tend to be larger and heavier than males. 

  • Actitis macularius
  • Length: 7.1 – 7.9 in (18 – 20 cm) 
  • Weight: 1.2 – 1.8 oz (34 – 50 g)
  • Wingspan: 14.6 – 15.8 in ( 37 – 40 cm) 


Spotted Sandpipers breed in Canada and the US before migrating to the Gulf Coast, Mexico, and Central, and South America.

Habitat and Diet

You can find Spotted Sandpipers in any freshwater area, like rivers and streams. They are also often seen near coastal areas, especially in winter.

Spotted Sandpipers normally forage on sand or mud and eat small fish and crustaceans, but will also eat insects from leaves.

Spotted Sandpiper Calls:


Nests of Spotted Sandpipers are always located near the shore and under the protection of broad-leafed plants or under thick vegetation like nettles. Nests are simple scrapes on the ground and lined with dead grass, feathers, and weeds. 

The female lays three to five eggs but the male incubates them for about three weeks and continues to care for them as they grow. Females may mate with more than one male.

Fun Fact:

Spotted Sandpipers are sometimes called “teeter-tails” because of their distinct tail-bobbing or “teetering” motion while they’re foraging.