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Rock Sandpiper Calidris ptilocnemis


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Rock Sandpiper
credit: FWS

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Scolopacidae, Sandpipers view all from this family

Description ADULT SUMMER Has chestnut-brown crown and feather margins on back; face and neck are streaked and note dark ear coverts. Underparts are mainly white with dark patch on breast. ADULT WINTER Has dark blue-gray upperparts including head, neck, and chest; underparts are whitish, with faint spots on flanks. Legs are dull orange-yellow. JUVENILE Has streaked buffy brown upperparts with distinct pectoral transition on chest from white underparts.

Dimensions Length: 8-9" (20-23 cm)

Habitat Locally fairly common. Breeds on coastal tundra in western Alaska. Winters on rocky shores on Pacific coast.

Observation Tips Easiest to find in winter on rocky coasts. Usually tolerant of observers, but unobtrusive and rather easy to overlook.

Range Western Canada, Alaska, Northwest, California

Voice Utters a sharp kwiit in flight.

Discussion Plump-bodied shorebird that feeds on rocky shores, often among breaking waves. All birds have a slender, downcurved bill. In flight, uniformly dark upperparts reveal only faint pale wing stripe. In summer plumage recalls breeding Dunlin, but note dark patch on chest (not belly). Sexes are similar.