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The Ivory Bill·Birds·Shorebirds

Semipalmated Sandpipers, Calidris pusilla

Semipalmated sandpipers foraging at water's edge

Semipalmated Sandpipers are shorebirds that breed in tundra and boreal wetlands in Arctic regions of North America, including Alaska and northern Canada, from June to July.

Semipalmated Sandpipers are commonly found in wet meadows, coastal marshes, and the edges of tundra ponds, where insects, spiders, and small crustaceans are abundant during the breeding season.

They forage in tidal flats, muddy shores, and shallow waters for flies, beetles, midges, and small crustaceans. They may also feed on seeds and small mollusks.

Semipalmated Sandpipers have short, straight bills and partially webbed feet that aid in foraging on muddy substrates and wading in shallow water. Their feeding behavior includes rapid pecking and probing.

Courtship involves males performing aerial displays, flying in circles and calling to attract females. Ground displays include bowing, wing raising, and tail spreading.

Nests are built by females in shallow depressions on the ground, lined with grass, moss, and leaves. Nests are typically located in well-hidden areas among dense vegetation or grassy hummocks.

Egg laying occurs from late May to early June, with females laying 3-4 eggs. Incubation lasts about 19-21 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 cold weather.

Fledging occurs at about 15-20 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 to early autumn, with birds traveling along both coastal and inland flyways to wintering regions in South America, particularly in Brazil, Suriname, and French Guiana.

Wintering habitats include coastal mudflats, mangroves, estuaries, and sandy beaches. Foraging continues in these habitats, with diets consisting mainly of marine worms, small crustaceans, insects, and other invertebrates.

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