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threatened and/or endangered

Solitary Sandpiper Tringa solitaria


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Solitary Sandpiper
credit: Tnolley

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Scolopacidae, Sandpipers view all from this family

Description ADULT In summer plumage, has dark brown upperparts, feathers on back are finely marked with pale marginal spots. Head and neck are streaked brown; crown is darkest and note white eyering. Underparts are white, with faint barring on flanks. Legs are dull yellowish green and relatively long bill is dull pinkish gray, darkening toward tip. Winter adult is similar, but is duller overall with less intense pale spots on back, and only faint streaking. JUVENILE Similar to winter adult, but has more striking white spots on back and upper wings, but only very faint streaking on otherwise uniformly buffy brown head and neck.

Dimensions Length: 8 1/2" (22 cm)

Habitat Widespread in breeding season in taiga marshes and bogs. Nests in abandoned songbird nests in trees. Winters almost exclusively in South America (only very rarely in southern U.S.), but widespread across region during migration, often stopping off at surprisingly small pools for a few hours or days.

Observation Tips Displaying or watchful breeders will sometimes perch on dead branch. Migrants are easiest to find on southbound journey, mainly late Jul-Sep; juvenile migration follows that of adults.

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

Voice Utters a shrill peet-wheet or peet-wheet-wheet when flushed. Song includes elements of call-like notes.

Discussion Compact, medium-sized sandpiper. As its common name suggests, it is typically solitary and usually feeds unobtrusively around muddy pool margins or in shallow marshes. Characteristically bobs body up and down as it walks. Flight is rapid and often rises steeply if flushed: note wings are dark above and below and tail has dark center and white margins, barred toward tip. Sexes are similar.