LEAST SANDPIPER

LEAST SANDPIPER(Calidris minutilla)

The Least sandpiper, as its name (both English and Latin) implies, is the smallest of the shorebird category, 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, slightly curved and about the same length as the head. The legs are yellowish.

The genus part of the bird’s name, ‘Calidris’, goes back to Aristotle, who used it to design grey shorebirds. As with other shorebirds, this species forages in mud flats for insects and crustaceans. The least sandpiper is part of what are called the ‘peeps’, owing to their high-pitch call. This bird breeds in the Arctic tundra, and visits PEI during its long migration. Its wintering grounds are indeed far south, from the southern USA to northern South America. When on PEI, where it is listed as common, it is often seen with other shorebird species (see photo below).

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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