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Bird name:

Least Sandpiper

Calidris minutilla




Sandpipers (Scolopacidae)





Euring 5

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Breeding Location:

Coastal ponds, Marshes, Seashore, sandy or rocky

Breeding Type:

Monogamous, Colonial

Egg Colour:

Olive pink or buff with dark brown spots.

Number of Eggs:

3 - 4

Incubation Days:

19 - 23

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Material:

Lined with grasses and moss.

Nest Location:

On ground.




Least Sandpiper: Small sandpiper with brown-scaled upperparts and rust-brown crown. Breast and throat are dark-spotted; belly and undertail white. Wings have thin white stripes visible in flight. Black line on rump extends onto tail. Legs and feet yellow. Winter adult has brown-grey upperparts with pale fringes; breast and throat streaked brown-grey. Sexes are similar; female is slightly larger and has a longer bill. Juvenile has a rufous cap, black-brown upperparts with white fringes that form a "V" on back, and buff-grey streaking on sides.

Range and Habitat

Least Sandpiper: Rare vagrant to the UK & Ireland. Breeds from inland Alaska across northern Canada to Labrador and south to Nova Scotia. Spends winters from the Pacific coast, across the southern U.S. south to central South America and the West Indies. Frequents sandy beaches and exposed tidal flats.

Breeding and Nesting

Least Sandpiper: They nest in tufts of short marsh grass on damp ground. The male establishes the nesting area by making several scrapes in the ground. The female then chooses one for nesting. Three or four dark brown-spotted olive pink or buff eggs are laid in a ground depression lined with grass and moss. Incubation ranges from 19 to 23 days and is carried out by both parents.

Foraging and Feeding

Least Sandpiper: Their diet includes insects, seed, and aquatic invertebrates. They also eat crustaceans, marine worms and molluscs on the coast. These sandpipers tend to feed on the most abundant prey of suitable size that are present. They typically feed in a communal area distant from the nesting grounds and forage by gleaning and probing on mudflats and beaches.


Least Sandpiper: When threatened, gives rapid, high, and giggling "dididididi" call. Fight call is a high, trilled, musical "preeep" or "pree-rreeep." When calling, the note is a shrill, high, "kree." During displays, a series of rising "b-b-b-tree-treeee-treee" notes are given.

Similar Species

Least Sandpiper: Sanderling lacks hind toe. Non-breeding Knot has grey upperparts with little contrast.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
The upper front part of a bird.
The area on top of the head of the bird.
The crown is the top part of the birds head.
The area between the uppertail coverts and the back of the bird.
4 and 6 letter alpha codesX

The four letter common name alpha code is is derived from the first two letters of the common first name and the first two letters of common last name. The six letter species name alpha code is derived from the first three letters of the scientific name (genus) and the first three letters of the scientific name (species). See (1) below for the rules used to create the codes..

Four-letter (for English common names) and six-letter (for scientific names) species alpha codes were developed by Pyle and DeSante (2003, North American Bird-Bander 28:64-79) to reflect A.O.U. taxonomy and nomenclature (A.O.U. 1998) as modified by Supplements 42 (Auk 117:847-858, 2000) and 43 (Auk 119:897-906, 2002). The list has been updated by Pyle and DeSante to reflect changes reported by the A.O.U from 2003 through 2006.


The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) was established in the mid-1990 s as a cooperative project among several federal agencies to improve and expand upon taxonomic data (known as the NODC Taxonomic Code) maintained by the National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

To find the ITIS page for a bird species go to the ITIS web site advanced search and report page at You can enter the TSN or the common name of the bird. It will return the ITIS page for that bird. Another way to obtain the ITIS page is to use the Google search engine. Enter the string ITIS followed by the taxonomic ID, for example "ITIS 178041" will return the page for the Allen's Hummingbird.

Parts of a Standing birdX
Head Feathers and MarkingsX
Parts of a Flying birdX