USGS - science for a changing world

Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

  Home About NPWRC Our Science Staff Employment Contacts Common Questions About the Site

Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Sanderling -- Calidris alba

RANGE: Breeds in northern Alaska, and from Prince Patrick Island to northern Ellesmere Island, south to northern Mackenzie, northern Keewatin, and Southampton, and northern Baffin Islands. Nonbreeding birds occur in summer in the winter range. Winters in the Aleutian Islands (locally), and from southern Alaska, the Gulf Coast, and Massachusetts south along the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts to South America.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Inhabits high Arctic tundra, particularly dry clay-mixed stony plains sparsely covered with willows, dryad, and saxifrage, on islands, peninsulas, and along the coast. Outside the breeding season, frequents sandy coastal beaches and tidal flats. Inland migrants inhabit sandbars along rivers and on lake beaches.


NEST: Nests in a slight hollow or depression on the ground on stony, well-drained ridge tops, gentle slopes, or on level alluvial plains. Usually locates nest at the edge of, or in, clumps of low plants and within several hundred yards of a marshy pond, but occasionally nests up to a mile from wet tundra.

FOOD: Probes in wet sand, picks up food washed on shore by the tide, and snatches up insects. In winter and on migration, feeds on sand fleas, shrimp, and other small crustaceans, small mollusks, and marine worms. On the breeding grounds, feeds on flies and their larvae, and other insects.

REFERENCES: Bent 1927, Cramp and Simmons 1983, Davis in Farrand 1983a, Parmelee 1970, Palmer 1967.

Previous Section -- Family Scolopacidae
Return to Family List
Return to Contents

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: Webmaster
Page Last Modified: Friday, 01-Feb-2013 19:22:18 EST
Sioux Falls, SD [sdww55]