Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Jim Bailey, Utah Nature Photography
Photo Copyright Jim Bailey

The spotted sandpiper, Actitis macularius, breeds across much of the United States and Canada. Most individuals migrate to coastal areas, the southern United States, Mexico, Central America, or South America for winter. Spotted sandpipers do not usually travel in large flocks, but may gather in small flocks to sleep. They prefer rocky shoreline and marshy habitats. The spotted sandpiper is a common breeder in Utah.

Nests are constructed on the ground or low in a bush, often near water, but sometimes in grassland habitat some distance from water. Females lay a clutch of about four eggs; the clutch is incubated by the male for about three weeks, until the eggs hatch. The young, which are tended by the male, can fly at two weeks of age. Females sometimes lay eggs for more than one male.

The spotted sandpiper eats invertebrates obtained from the water, the shoreline, or surrounding upland areas.


  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.