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The Ivory Bill·Birds·Shorebirds

Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Calidris subruficollis

Buff-breasted sandpiper preening its wing on a rocky shore

Buff-breasted Sandpipers are shorebirds that breed in dry, sparsely vegetated tundra in Arctic regions of North America, specifically in Alaska and northern Canada, from June to July.

Buff-breasted Sandpipers are commonly found in open, well-drained tundra with scattered vegetation, where insects, spiders, and small crustaceans are abundant during the breeding season.

They forage in dry tundra, gravelly areas, and coastal plains for flies, beetles, spiders, and small crustaceans. They may also feed on seeds and small mollusks.

Buff-breasted Sandpipers have relatively short, straight bills adapted for picking small prey from the surface. Their long legs and nimble movements allow them to forage efficiently in open, grassy habitats.

Courtship involves males performing elaborate ground displays known as “lekking.” Males gather in small groups, puff out their chests, raise their wings, and emit a series of whistles and trills to attract females.

Nests are built by females in shallow depressions on the ground, lined with grasses, lichens, and leaves. Nests are typically located in dry, elevated areas with sparse vegetation.

Egg laying occurs from June to July, with females laying 3-4 eggs. Incubation lasts about 22-25 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 extreme weather conditions.

Fledging occurs at about 20-25 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, Uruguay, and Brazil.

Wintering habitats include grasslands, agricultural fields, and coastal wetlands. Foraging continues in open, grassy areas, with diets consisting mainly of insects, spiders, and small crustaceans.

Buff-breasted Sandpipers leave their wintering grounds in late March to early April, returning north to breeding territories.