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Buff-breasted Sandpiper Tryngites subruficollis


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Buff-breasted Sandpiper
credit: Tim Lenz/CCSA

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Family: Scolopacidae, Sandpipers view all from this family

Description ADULT Has streaked crown, nape, and back, and dark centers to otherwise buff feathers on wings. Underparts are buffy and mainly unmarked. JUVENILE Similar to adult, but rather uniformly dark-centered, buff-margined feathers on back and wings create a rather scaly appearance to upperparts.

Dimensions Length: 8" (20 cm)

Habitat Once abundant, but decimated (literally) by hunting, mainly during 19th century; still a fairly common breeding species on high Arctic tundra. Long-distance migrant that winters in pampas grassland of southern South America. Migrants pass over Great Plains and occasionally stop off to feed, favoring short, drier grassland; scarce away from this migration route.

Observation Tips Search short grassland e.g. airfields along Gulf coast in September for migrant juveniles.

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

Voice Mostly silent.

Discussion Charming and usually tame shorebird, associated with grassland not water. Plumage is pale buff overall. Dark eye is emphasized by dark cap and otherwise pale buffy face. At all times, note rather short, dark bill and relatively long yellow legs. In flight and display, reveals mainly whitish underwings (dark primary coverts appear as contrasting dark crescent). Sexes are similar.