Least Sandpiper

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Common Name: Least Sandpiper
Scientific Name: Calidris minutilla

Size: 5-6 inches (13-15 cm)

Habitat: North and South America; breeding habitat is the northern North American continent. They migrate to the southern United States and northern South America. They occur as very rare vagrants in Western Europe. Breeds in mossy or wet grassy tundra, occasionally in drier areas with scattered scrubby bushes. Migrates and winters in wet meadows, mudflats, flooded fields, shores of pools and lakes, and, less frequently, sandy beaches.

Status: Near Threatened. Global population: 700,000. It is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

Diet: Crustaceans, insects and snails. They forage on mudflats, picking up food by sight, sometimes by probing.

Nesting: In winter, Least Sandpipers are grey above. The juveniles are brightly patterned above with rufous coloration and white mantle stripes.

Their breeding habitat is the northern North American continent on tundra or in bogs. They nest on the ground near water. The female lays 4 eggs in a shallow scrape lined with grass and moss. Both parents incubate; the female leaves before the young birds fledge and sometimes before the eggs hatch. The young birds feed themselves and are able to fly within two weeks of birth.

Cool Facts: The Least Sandpiper is the smallest shorebird in the world.

Although it is a relatively numerous shorebird, the Least Sandpiper tends to occur in flocks of dozens or hundreds, rather than thousands like some other sandpipers. It also tends to forage at the upper edge of mudflats or along drier margins of inland ponds than other related small sandpipers.

Found in Songbird ReMix Shorebirds Volume 3: Small Waders

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