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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Baird's Sandpiper -- Calidris bairdii

RANGE: Breeds from western and northern Alaska to Ellesmere Island, south to central Alaska, northern Mackenzie, Keewatin, Southampton Island and south-central Baffin Islands. Winters in South America.

STATUS: Uncommon.

HABITAT: Inhabits dry coastal and alpine tundra, particularly barren, exposed ridges, terrace banks, and raised beaches that are sparsely covered with low matted vegetation. Prefers sheltered places and frequents muddy, sandy, and grassy areas near water, including irrigated fields, shores of lakes and ponds, alpine tundra, and marshes. During migration, prefers inland to coastal habitats.


NEST: Nests are in shallow depressions on the ground, usually in wind-blown and lichen-strewn areas with large patches of bare soil. Sometimes nests in grassy areas in a tuft of vegetation or among lichen-covered rocks.

FOOD: Forages by snatching food, primarily in dry areas or along wet edges of lakes and ponds. Eats small crustaceans, spiders, beetles and their larvae, gnats, craneflies, and other insects, moss, leaves and stems, and other plant parts.

REFERENCES: Cramp and Simmons 1983, Davis in Farrand 1983a, Drury 1961, Palmer 1967, Terres 1980.

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