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The Ivory Bill·Birds·Shorebirds

Purple Sandpipers, Calidris maritima

Purple sandpiper on a large shore rock

Purple Sandpipers are shorebirds that breed in tundra and rocky coastal areas in Arctic regions of North America and Eurasia from June to July.

Purple Sandpipers are commonly found in rocky shorelines and tundra with sparse vegetation, where mollusks, crustaceans, and insects are abundant during the breeding season.

They forage in intertidal zones, rocky coastlines, and tidal pools for mollusks, crustaceans, marine worms, insects, and small snails. They may also feed on seeds and plant material.

Purple Sandpipers have strong, slightly curved bills adapted for probing into crevices and among rocks to extract prey. Their sturdy legs and unwebbed feet allow them to navigate slippery, uneven surfaces.

Courtship involves males displaying by fluffing their feathers, calling, and performing aerial displays to attract females. They also engage in ground displays, spreading their wings and tail.

Nests are built by scraping shallow depressions in the ground, often lined with grasses, moss, and lichens. Nests are typically located in sheltered areas among rocks or vegetation.

Egg laying occurs in June, with females laying 3-4 eggs. Incubation lasts about 21-22 days, with both parents sharing duties. Upon hatching, chicks are precocial and leave the nest shortly after to follow parents. Initial diets include small invertebrates provided by parents.

Chicks learn to forage under adult supervision, initially relying on parents to find food. As they grow, they begin to forage independently, but are vulnerable to predation and harsh weather.

Fledging occurs at about 21-28 days, with continued adult guidance. 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 coastal flyways to wintering regions in northern Europe and the eastern coast of North America. Wintering regions include the British Isles, Norway, and northeastern United States.

Wintering habitats include rocky coastlines, piers, and jetties. Foraging continues in intertidal zones, with diets consisting mainly of mollusks, crustaceans, and marine worms.

Purple Sandpipers leave their wintering grounds in late April to early May, returning north to breeding territories.