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The Ivory Bill·Birds·Shorebirds

​Stilt Sandpipers, Calidris himantopus

Stilt sandpiper standing on one leg in the sandy shore

Stilt Sandpipers are migratory shorebirds that breed in North America and winter in South America.

During the breeding season, which typically spans from May to July, Stilt Sandpipers can be found in a variety of wetland habitats, including freshwater and saltwater marshes, mudflats, and shallow ponds.

They primarily forage for a diet that consists of aquatic invertebrates, such as insects, insect larvae, worms, and small crustaceans. Their long, slender bills are well-suited for probing the mud and shallow waters to capture this prey. They have long legs that enable them to wade in water while foraging and a keen sense of sight to locate and capture their prey.

Courtship in Stilt Sandpipers is an intricate display that includes aerial acrobatics, vocalizations, and posturing on the ground. Males compete for the attention of females, and successful courtship displays can involve synchronized flight and elaborate dances.

For nests, Stilt Sandpipers create shallow scrapes in the ground, often lined with grasses and sedges. These nests are typically situated in the wetland areas near their foraging grounds.

After laying eggs, the female incubates them while the male guards the nest. Upon hatching, the parents provide care and protection to the chicks, primarily feeding them a diet of small invertebrates and insects.

As the chicks develop, they learn to forage under the guidance of the adults, acquiring the skills needed for their unique feeding habits. Vulnerable during this time, the chicks rely on the protection and guidance of their parents.

Stilt Sandpiper chicks fledge and gain independence gradually, while still receiving guidance from the adults as they refine their foraging techniques and adapt their diets to include a wider range of prey.

Stilt Sandpipers leave their breeding grounds in late summer, typically in August. They follow established migratory flyways, including the Atlantic and Mississippi flyways, to reach their wintering regions in South America.

During the winter, these birds inhabit coastal habitats, estuaries, and tidal flats in countries such as Argentina and Chile. They primarily forage on aquatic invertebrates, including small crustaceans and insects, taking advantage of the rich feeding opportunities in these areas.

Stilt Sandpipers begin their return journey to their breeding grounds in North America in late winter or early spring, typically departing from their wintering regions in February or March. They follow migratory routes back to their northern breeding areas, where they arrive in late spring to begin the breeding season once again.