Common Name

Scientific Name


Photo by Bruce Bonebrake
Photo Copyright Bruce Bonebrake

The least sandpiper, Calidris minutilla, breeds across northern Canada and Alaska in tundra and subarctic forests, often in bogs, between May and August. Following the breeding season, populations migrate to wintering grounds in southern North America, Central America, and northern South America. Eastern populations may migrate over the ocean for 3,000 to 4,000 miles to wintering grounds in South America. During migration, this sandpiper is common in Utah, and some birds remain in the state through the winter.

Nests are small hollows lined with grasses and leaves, often situated on a moss hummock or plant clump in a bog. Four eggs are laid and are incubated mostly by the male parent for 19 to 23 days. Young leave the nest within a day of hatching, and are tended by both parents, though mainly by the male parent. The least sandpiper feeds on aquatic invertebrates.


  • Cooper, J. M. 1994. Least sandpiper (Calidris minutilla). Birds of North America 115: 28 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.