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Spotted Sandpiper

Scientific Name:

Actitis macularius




Found in North America near rivers, streams, freshwater lakes and ponds, while spending winters along the coasts.


Throughout North and South America.


Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

This species is


to the Truckee Meadows.


The Spotted Sandpiper is a small to medium sized shorebird, about the size of a robin; up to nearly 8 inches in length and weighing just under two ounces with a wingspan of up to 15.8 inches. Spotted Sandpipers have brown backs, and a white breast that has dark brown spots during mating season (in winter it remains white). Spotted sandpipers are easy to distinguish from other shore birds because of their distinctive teetering as they walk. Their tails bob up and down as they walk which has earned them several nicknames including tip-tail and teeter-peep. The flight style of Spotted Sandpipers is also distinct, as they fly low above the water with rapid wing beats, interspersed with brief glides. The diet of Spotted Sandpipers is quite varied to include insects, small fish and crustaceans, and they will sometimes pick at dead fish.

Fast Facts:

  • Female spotted sandpipers are larger and more aggressive than the males. Additionally, the females may practice polyandry, one female selects several male mates (up to 4); she sets up a territory in which each male sandpiper will incubate a separate clutch of eggs and care for the young.



Regina Hockett (research & content)

Caroline Stillitano (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

March 27, 2024 at 1:48:22 AM

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