Calidris mauri

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Western sandpiper, photo by Ingrid Taylar

Western Sandpiper - Calidris mauri

Habitat: Their breeding habitat is on tundra in eastern Siberia and Alaksa. They nest on the ground usually under some vegetation.

Geographical Range: They migrate to both coasts of North and South America and they have been known to migrate to Western Europe.

Ecological Notes: These birds eat mainly mollusks, insects, and small crustaceans. They locate this food by sight alone. These birds can be found feeding in freshwater and saltwater along the coast. They are almost identical in appearance to Semipalmated however they can be identified by beak size and shape. The Western Sandpiper has a longer beak and it curves slightly downward as you can see in the picture above. Experts call these birds “peeps” since even they can’t tell which is which sometimes.

Journal Articles: The link below can assist you in learning more about the migration route of the Western Sandpiper. Butler, RW. “Migration routes of the western sandpiper.” Wilson Bulletin, v. 108 issue 4, 1996, p. 662.

If you are interested in discovering the link between these tiny birds and the spread of West Nile virus to a town near you, check out the link below. Rappole JH, Derrickson SR, Hubalek Z. Migratory birds and spread of West Nile virus in the Western Hemisphere. Emerg Infect Dis 2000; 6: 319–28.

Personal Information: These birds were seen all over the beach at Oregon Inlet every time we went down to the ocean, with the exception of the bonfire trip. Not only was it cute, but it was mid boggling to watch the birds feed. The waves would come in, chasing the birds up the beach (they never flew away, only scurried as fast as their little legs could go) and then when the waves went back out into the ocean, the birds would ran as fast as they could after them and pick up whatever food they could find. Keep in mind this wave action was taking less than a minute to come in and go out. It’s unbelievable that they can find food that quick while running as fast as they can at the same time.

Contributed by Whitney Barker - 2008

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