LEAST SANDPIPER

LEAST SANDPIPER(Calidris minutilla)
DESCRIPTION: The Least Sandpiper, as its name (both English and Latin) implies, is the smallest of its shorebird category, at around 14 cm (5.5 in.) long. It has white under parts, and two-tone brown upper parts with white-lined feathers in a scaly fashion. The bill is black and about the same length as the head. The legs are yellowish. Sexes are similar.
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Calidris-minutilla – The least sandpiper is part of what are called the ‘peeps’, owing to their high-pitch call.
NAME: The English name ‘Sandpiper’ stems from ‘sand’, and Latin ‘pipa’, which means to ‘chirp’. The Latin genus name ‘Calidris’ is from ancient Greek and refers to a grey speckled shorebird.
HABITAT: In their breeding range, least sandpipers are found in the Canadian and Alaskan tundra and boreal forests. During their migration and on their wintering grounds, they inhabit coastal and inland wetlands.
DIET: As with other shorebirds, this species forages in mud flats for insects and crustaceans.
NESTING: The nest is a shallow scrape near water. Four yellow eggs are laid, which are incubated by both parents.
DISTRIBUTION: This bird breeds in the Arctic tundra. Its wintering grounds cover the southern USA to northern South America. Some individuals will spend the winter on Hawaii.
ON PEI: The least sandpiper visits Prince Edward Island during its migration, so it is observed during all seasons except winter. When on PEI, it is often seen with other shorebird species (see photo below).
CONSERVATION: Since the range of the least sandpiper is wide and its population relatively large, it is not currently considered at risk. However, as with other shorebirds, habitat loss to environmental degradation or development is a long-term concern.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Semipalmated Sandpiper, Sanderling, Western Sandpiper
REFERENCES: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Least_Sandpiper/id
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Least_sandpiper
https://identify.whatbird.com/obj/429/_/Least_Sandpiper.aspx
https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/least-sandpiper

Least sandpiper with sanderlings - Savage Harbour, PEI - Sept. 2016, by Marie Smith
Least sandpiper with sanderlings – Savage Harbour, PEI – Sept. 2016, by Marie Smith
Least Sandpiper - Borden, PEI - Sept. 2, 2013
Least Sandpiper close up – Borden, PEI – Sept. 2, 2013 – Roberta Palmer
Least Sandpiper - Indian River area, PEI - Aug. 26, 2017 - © Chris Rice
Least Sandpiper – Indian River area, PEI – Aug. 26, 2017 – Chris Rice

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