Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Tim Provan
Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The western sandpiper, Calidris mauri, breeds along the northern coasts of Alaska and Siberia. Following the breeding period, North American populations migrate to wintering grounds along coasts of southern North America and northern South America. The species is a common migrant through Utah during this period.

Nesting areas are in tundra on slightly elevated ground, dry islands, or ridges. Males advertise their presence to females by flying 20 feet up while trilling. Nests, which are shallow depressions lined with lichens and leaves, are often in large colonies, though pairs are usually monogamous. As early as late May, or sometimes as late as the end of August, four or five eggs are laid by the female and then incubated by both parents for 21 days. Young leave the nest immediately after hatching and are tended by both parents. They are able to fly after 17 or 18 days. The western sandpiper feeds mainly on insects during the breeding season; marine invertebrates are the main prey on wintering grounds.


  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder's handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Shuster, Inc., New York. xxx + 785 pp.

  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American Birds, Second Ed. Academic Press, San Diego. 347 pp.