SOLITARY SANDPIPER – (Tringa solitaria)
The Solitary sandpiper is a relatively small shorebird at around 20 cm (9 in.) long, and is brown on top with white streaks. The head is light brown and the middle of the breast is white with brown streaks, with the reverse pattern for the breast sides. The under parts are white. The bill and the legs are dark, and there is a white ring around the eye.
The English name ‘Sandpiper’ stems from ‘sand’, and Latin ‘pipa’, which means to ‘chirp’. The name ‘tringa’ refers to a bird with a white rump and a bobbing tail in ancient Greece. The solitary sandpiper does not build its own nest, but rather uses the abandoned nests of songbirds in trees. This bird prefers a fresh water habitat, and is searching for food around ponds or other bodies of water, including even ditches.
The solitary sandpiper is a rare visitor to PEI in the summer and uncommon in the fall, as it is migrating from other parts of Canada to Mexico and South America for the winter. The word ‘solitary’ in the name is due to the fact that it doesn’t form large flocks during migration.