Baird's Sandpiper (Calidris bairdii)
[order] CHARADRIIFORMES | [family] Scolopacidae | [latin] Calidris bairdii | [UK] Bairds Sandpiper | [FR] Becasseau de Baird | [DE] Baird-Strandlaufer | [ES] Correlimos de Baird | [NL] Bairds Strandloper
spanwidth min.: 38 cm
spanwidth max.: 41 cm
size min.: 19 cm
size max.: 20 cm
incubation min.: 20 days
incubation max.: 22 days
fledging min.: 16 days
fledging max.: 22 days
eggs min.: 3
eggs max.: 4
Bairds Sandpipers are brown shorebirds with black legs and very long wings. Their medium-length bills are fine-tipped and straight. Adults in breeding plumage are light brown, and have black spots on their wings. Non-breeding adults are gray-brown, and lack spots. The juvenile, the most common form found in Washington, is brown with white-edged feathers that give it a scaly appearance. In flight, it shows white wing-stripes and a dark line down the middle of its tail, with white on either sides of the rump.
Breeding habitat is dry upland tundra. During migration, Bairds Sandpipers can be found along sandy shores and sometimes mudflats. They prefer higher, drier habitat than most other small sandpipers. They are also likely to be found in alpine areas, at high-elevation lakes, or even on snow banks. Wintering grounds are southern South American grasslands.
Bairds Sandpipers are generally found individually or in small flocks. Flock size can be greater mid-continent where they are more common. Bairds Sandpipers typically forage along the upper edge of mudflats, or up on sandy beaches, often in vegetation. They will sometimes forage in the water, but not regularly. Birds in the mountains will feed on snow banks. They move quickly with heads up, picking up surface prey
Calidris bairdii has a predominantly North American breeding distribution, which just extends into Europe in north-west Greenland. Its European breeding population is very small (as few as 500 pairs), but its trend between 1970-1990 was unknown. Trend data were also unavailable during 1990-2000, but there was no evidence to suggest that it declined. Although the size of the European population could render it susceptible to the risks affecting small populations, it is marginal to a much a larger non-European population.
The Canadian Wildlife Service estimates the population of Bairds Sandpipers at 300,000 birds. This species use of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, as well as major migration staging areas, makes it vulnerable if these areas are lost or degraded. Rare vagrant to Europe, mostly the UK isles
Bairds Sandpipers are primarily insect-eaters
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence 30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]
The nest is located on the ground among rocks and perhaps in low ground cover, sometimes well hidden in a grass clump. The male builds most of the nest, which is a shallow scrape lined with lichen, grass, and leaves. Both parents help incubate the four eggs for 19 to 22 days. The young leave the nest soon after hatching and feed themselves. Both parents brood and tend the young at first, but the female usually abandons the brood before they fledge. The male stays with the brood until they begin to fly, at 16 to 20 days.
Migratory. Many migrate inland, across North American prairies, Rockies and N Andes, often staging at high altitude lakes. Funnel through Canada W of Hudson Bay, then stopover in prairies of S Canada and N USA, especially Cheyenne Bottoms (Kansas), whereafter non-stop journey to Andes by mid-Aug, bypassing Central America off W coast. Adults depart early Jul, females slightly preceeding males; juveniles migrate later from breeding grounds, from late Jul, in more leisurely fashion, and over broader front, from Pacific states to Atlantic; unlike adults, many juveniles move into SW USA; juveniles reach Patagonia mainly early Oct. N migration largely along same route.