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Bird name:

Common Sandpiper

Actitis hypoleucos




Sandpipers (Scolopacidae)





Euring 5

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Breeding Location:

Lakes, Streams, upland, Rivers

Breeding Type:


Egg Colour:

Smooth, glossy and pale creamy or buff evenly coated with brown specks and some irregular spots.

Number of Eggs:

3 - 5

Incubation Days:

21 - 22

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Material:

Saucer-shaped scrape lined with leaves and stalks.

Nest Location:

On the ground sometimes hidden by vegetation.




Common Sandpiper: Plump, thrush sized bird with dusky gray upperparts, heavily streaked breast, and sparkling white underparts. Best distinguished by its habit of standing in a semi-crouch and bobbing back and forth. Flies low over water with stiff shallow wing beats and glides. Wings show white wing bar in flight. Has greenish yellow legs, white eye ring broken by thin, black line, and thin, straight bill. Juvenile like adult but with plain brown instead of streaked breast, and more black barring on wings.

Range and Habitat

Common Sandpiper: Both a summer breeder and winter visitor. Summer breeding locations include Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the north England. Winter grounds are primarily on the south coast of England. Prefers rivers, lakes, lochs, and estuaries during breeding, mudflats and marshes on passage.

Breeding and Nesting

Common Sandpiper: Prefers to nest near water. High degree of site fidelity but little natal philopatry. Nest is built in sheltered depression, lined with leaves and plant stalks. May be on floating vegetation. Male does most of incubation and rearing. Female often leaves before young fledge.

Foraging and Feeding

Common Sandpiper: Locates prey by sight; catches it by pecking with short bill. Feeds on crustaceans, insects, worms, and other small coastal invertebrates. May swim or dive for prey, or dash after faraway prey. May scavenge food scraps from humans.


Common Sandpiper: Shrill piping "swee wee wee."

Similar Species

Common Sandpiper: The Green Sandpiper is larger, has a darker back, a shorter tail, a white rump, and lacks the shoulder wedge of the Common Sandpiper. Wood Sandpiper is slimmer, with a longer, more slender bill, it also has yellow legs and white spotted upperparts.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The upper front part of a bird.
Eye ringX
The circle around the eye formed of feathers that are a different color from the rest of the face.
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