Common Name

Scientific Name


Photo by Robert T. Maytum
Photo Courtesy of Robert T. Maytum

The semipalmated sandpiper, Calidris pusilla, breeds along the coasts of northern Alaska and northern Canada between June and August. Following the breeding season, this shorebird migrates to wintering grounds along the coasts of Florida, Central America, and South America. At key migratory stopovers, particularly along the Atlantic Coast, hundreds of thousands may be present during the spring and fall. The semipalmated sandpiper is as a rare migrant through Utah.

Nesting areas are in tundra, usually near water on ridges, dunes, or other elevated ground. Nests are shallow depressions lined with grasses or moss in grassy habitats, often concealed beneath clumps of grass or other vegetation. Four eggs are laid and incubated by both parents for 20 to 22 days. Young leave the nest shortly after hatching; they are able to fly after 16 to 19 days, though they may become independent from their parents several days earlier. This shorebird feeds primarily on aquatic invertebrates.


  • Gratto-Trevor, C. L. 1992. Semipalmated sandpiper (Calidris pusilla). Birds of North America 6: 20 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.