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Sanderling Calidris alba


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credit: JJ Harrison/CCSA

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Family: Scolopacidae, Sandpipers view all from this family

Description ADULT WINTER Has mostly uniform dull gray upperparts and white underparts. Black outer margins to flight feathers, and on outer wing coverts and leading edge of inner wing, are visible on resting birds as dark wingtips and "shoulder" bar. ADULT SUMMER (sometimes seen in late spring or early fall) Flushed rufous on head and neck and has scattering of dark-centered feathers on back; underparts are white. JUVENILE Similar to winter adult, but many back feathers are dark in the center.

Dimensions Length: 8" (20 cm)

Habitat Common winter visitor (mainly Sep-Apr) to coastal sandy beaches. Breeds on tundra in Canadian high Arctic and Greenland. Occasional on inland wetlands during migration. Winter range extends to coastal South America but good numbers remain on Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

Observation Tips Easy to see in winter.

Range Rocky Mountains, Eastern Canada, Florida, Mid-Atlantic, Alaska, Great Lakes, Southwest, New England, Northwest, Western Canada, Texas, California, Southeast, Plains

Voice Utters a sharp plit call.

Discussion Characteristic shorebird of sandy beaches during the winter months, seen in small flocks running at speed, and feeding, along edges of breaking waves; looks very white overall underneath and pale gray above at this time of year. Shows a striking white wing stripe, seen in flight, and dark legs and bill are seen at all times. Sexes are similar.