Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Sandpipers are a large group of both related and unrelated birds that inhabit mud flats and sandy shorelines. They often gather in large numbers to feed on aquatic insects. When startled, sandpipers rise in unison and fly in formation to safety. Many of the sandpiper species have long pointed wings that are adapted for high speed flight and are well known for their long distance seasonal migrations. Since most species of sandpipers nest on the arctic tundra, many of these birds are observed in North Dakota only during seasonal migrations. Sandpipers can be difficult to identify because many species share similar plumage patterns and are often mixed with other species while feeding. Members of this family that nest in North Dakota include the marbled godwit, upland sandpiper, long-billed curlew, willet, spotted sandpiper, Wilson's phalarope, and common snipe. The common snipe is listed as a game species in North Dakota. Other species that may be observed during migration include the Hudsonian godwit, greater yellowlegs, lesser yellowlegs, solitary sandpiper, short-billed dowitcher, long-billed dowitcher, semipalmated sandpiper, western sandpiper, pectoral sandpiper, least sandpiper, white-rumped sandpiper, Baird's sandpiper, stilt sandpiper. buff-breasted sandpiper, and sanderling.