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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

Pectoral Sandpiper -- Calidris melanotos

RANGE: Breeds from western and northern Alaska to Bathurst and Devon Islands, south to western Alaska, central Mackenzie, and southeastern Keewatin Districts, and the south coast of Hudson Bay. Winters in South America, casually north to the Gulf Coast and Florida.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Inhabits dry and moss-lichen tundra, tundra grassland, tussocky tundra with sedge, and peat tundra with hummocks up to 10 to 15 feet. In Alaska, found along the coast and in the foothills, frequenting a variety of tundra habitats on flat terrain that are poorly drained, usually wet, and characterized by low grasses and sedges, dwarf shrubs, and cottongrass tussocks. Outside of the breeding season, prefers grassy terrain bordering moving or still waters; only rarely found on open mudflats.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Dry nesting sites on arctic tundra.

NEST: Nests in a depression on dry ground in areas with a continuous cover of grasses and sedges. Hides nest well, usually under a tree or bush.

FOOD: Forages mainly in dry, grassy meadows on insects, especially flies and their larvae. Also eats beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, amphipods, other tiny crustaceans, mites, spiders, algae, and a few seeds of grasses, lupines, and violets.

REFERENCES: Bent 1927, Cramp and Simons 1983, Low and Mansell 1983, Palmer 1967, Pitelka 1959.

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