03 February, 2014

Least Sandpiper

Scientific Name: Calidris minutilla

Population Estimate: Unknown, but Least Concern status

Range / Habitat: Breed in wet tundra and interrupted boreal forest across much of northern Canada and Alaska. In winter found along muddy shores and estuaries of the southern US, Mexico, and northern South America. They are not common on ocean beaches.

Field Notes: Smallest of the "peeps," not much bigger than a sparrow. They have a brown back and head with white eyestripe. White underneath with subtle neck striping. Black bill droops slightly. Distinctive yellow-green legs and a high-pitched "creep" call. Semipalmated Sandpipers and Western Sandpipers are slightly larger with stouter bills and black legs instead of the Least Sandpiper’s yellowish legs.

Personal Notes: A common sight, but hard to photograph, on the Salton Sea in California. Shown above with a Dunlin in the middle of the photo.

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