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White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis


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White-rumped Sandpiper
credit: Tim Bowman, USFWS

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Scolopacidae, Sandpipers view all from this family

Description ADULT SUMMER Has rufous on back and bold streaking on crown, neck, and chest; markings are arrowheaded on breast and flanks. Underparts are otherwise white. ADULT winter Grayish above and white below. JUVENILE Has rufous, dark-centered back feathers with pale margins, some of which align to create a white "V." Dark reddish brown crown and ear coverts contrast with otherwise pale face and long, pale supercilium.

Dimensions Length: 7 1/2" (19 cm)

Habitat Common Arctic breeder that favors wet tundra. A long-distance migrant that migrates across plains in spring, and mainly down Atlantic seaboard in fall before flying directly to South America. Staging birds can be found on estuaries and around drying margins of freshwater pools near coasts. Adults migrate before juveniles in fall. Winters in southern South America.

Observation Tips Unless you visit its Arctic breeding grounds in spring, easiest to observe in fall on East Coast, mainly Aug-Oct.

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

Voice A thin tseet call.

Discussion Plump-bodied shorebird with a rather elongated-looking "tail-end," the effect created by its long wings (primaries project well beyond tail at rest); this characteristic is shared by the superficially similar Baird's Sandpiper. Its diagnostic white rump (upper tail coverts) is obvious only in flight. The slightly downcurved bill is mainly dark, but has an orange base to the lower mandible, another good feature for identification although close views are needed to appreciate it.