Where Do Sandpipers Sleep?

December 12, 2023

The answer to the question, “where do sandpipers sleep?” is not as simple as one would hope. Sandpipers spend most of their lives in saltwater marshes, where land and water come together. Twice a day, as the tide comes in and then recedes, the marsh is transformed. During this time, sandpipers are on the move as they feed and rest in their favorite habitat.

Unlike other shorebird species, which typically stay close to their breeding grounds, sandpipers often wander long distances during migration. They are often spotted in passage along the Great Plains as they head northward toward Alaska. They are also known to winter in southern regions of South America.

This mid-sized wader is brown overall, with a black throat and bib. In breeding plumage, males are striking with a boldly striped breast. Their wings are rufous brown, tipped with buff, giving them a scaled look. The bill is slightly curved downward and darker in breeding than nonbreeding season.

Male pectoral sandpipers may take part in courtship displays to attract females. Once they find a suitable female, the couple will begin nest building in an isolated spot on the shoreline. Once the eggs hatch, the couple will feed themselves and their young until the chicks are ready to fledge. Once the chicks fledge, the parents will leave for their wintering grounds.

Like many other migratory shorebirds, pectoral sandpipers face a variety of threats during both their breeding and migration seasons. Their nests and young are commonly preyed upon by jaegers (skuas) and other predatory birds, such as Arctic foxes and weasels. They are also subject to recreational hunting, although numbers have recovered enough that this practice is now rarely observed.

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