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The Ivory Bill·Birds·Shorebirds

Baird’s Sandpipers, Calidris bairdii

Baird's sandpiper on a shore rock

Baird’s Sandpipers are shorebirds that breed in Arctic tundra regions of North America, specifically in Alaska and northern Canada, from June to July.

Baird’s Sandpipers are commonly found in dry, rocky tundra and gravelly shores near freshwater lakes and rivers, where insects, spiders, and small crustaceans are abundant during the breeding season.

They forage in shallow waters, mudflats, and tundra edges for flies, beetles, caterpillars, spiders, and small crustaceans. They may also feed on plant seeds and small aquatic invertebrates.

Baird’s Sandpipers have slender, slightly decurved bills adapted for picking small prey from the surface of the ground or water. Their long wings and strong flight muscles aid in their long migratory journeys.

Courtship involves males performing aerial displays, flying high and then descending in a series of undulating dives while calling to attract females. Ground displays include spreading wings and tail feathers and bowing.

Nests are built by females in shallow depressions on the ground, lined with moss, lichen, and leaves. Nests are typically located in well-drained areas with sparse vegetation.

Egg laying occurs from June to July, with females laying 3-4 eggs. Incubation lasts about 20-22 days and is primarily done by females. Upon hatching, chicks are precocial and leave the nest shortly after to follow the female parent. Initial diets include small insects and other invertebrates provided by the female.

Chicks learn to forage under the female’s supervision, initially relying on her to find food. As they grow, they begin to forage independently but are vulnerable to predation and harsh weather conditions.

Fledging occurs at about 18-20 days, with continued guidance from the female parent. Juvenile diets gradually expand to include a wider range of invertebrates as they develop foraging skills.

Migration begins in late summer, with birds traveling along interior and coastal flyways to wintering regions in South America, particularly in Argentina, Chile, and Brazil.

Wintering habitats include coastal mudflats, estuaries, and inland wetlands. Foraging continues in shallow waters and mudflats, with diets consisting mainly of small crustaceans, insects, and other invertebrates.

Baird’s Sandpipers leave their wintering grounds in late March to early April, returning north to breeding territories.