Calidris Mauri – Western Sandpiper

Calidris Mauri - Western Sandpiper found in the US

Calidris mauri, or western sandpiper, is a tiny shorebird. The genus name derives from the Ancient Greek kalidris or skalidris, Aristotle’s word for several gray-colored waterside birds. The specific mauri is named after Ernesto Mauri (1791–1836), an Italian botanist. With a population in the millions, this is one of the most abundant shorebird species in North America.

Quick Overview: Calidris Mauri – Western Sandpiper
Body size: Around 6-7 in (15-18 cm) and a weight of 42 g (1.48 oz)
Main colors: Chestnut-Brown, White, Brown, Black
Range: Throughout the United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: March, April, May, September, October, November
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Western sandpiper Description

This little sandpiper has chestnut-brown scaled upperparts, white underparts speckled with rows of dark chevrons, a streaked head with brown wash on the face, a dark bill with a decurved tip, thin white stripes visible in flight on dark wings, black legs and feet, and partial webbing between toes.

Calidris Mauri - Western Sandpiper found in the US
Calidris Mauri – Western Sandpiper. Photo by: Alan Schmierer

Size

These birds have a length of 6-7 in (15-18 cm) and a weight of 42 g (1.48 oz). Their wings could range from 12-14 in (30-36 cm).

Feeding

The western sandpiper feeds primarily on flies and beetles, but sometimes on other insects, spiders, and small crustaceans on its breeding grounds. It feeds on crustaceans, small mollusks, marine worms, and insects in coastal environments. Inland, preys primarily on insects.

Habitat

Western sandpipers breed in two environments in subarctic Alaska: drained, heath-covered tundra and marsh tundra. The marshes are surrounded by numerous water sources, including lakes, streams, and ponds. Additionally, the marshes are primarily vegetated by grasses and sedges, which serve as the principal food source for nesting birds.

Behavior

Western sandpipers arrive in Alaska to reproduce as soon as the snow begins to melt, often in mid-May. After breeding is complete and the young have fledged, western sandpipers migrate to coastal California. For adults, this occurs in mid-July; for juveniles, it occurs a month later. They continue south from there, remaining close to the coast and also going north along the Atlantic coast. Western sandpipers migrate to their wintering habitats in September and remain there until the beginning of May.

Calidris Mauri Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Charadriiformes
  • Family: Scolopacidae
  • Genus: Calidris
  • Species: Calidris mauri

Best time of the year to see

In the United States, the best time of year to see these birds are during the Spring season (March-May) and during the Autumn season (September – November).

Distribution of the Western sandpiper in the USA

This species breeds in Alaska‘s far north and west. Wintering areas include the coasts of British Columbia, Washington, and Virginia, as well as parts of Mexico and the West Indies.

The Western sandpiper can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Calidris Mauri – Western Sandpiper

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