Calidris Minutilla – Least Sandpiper

Calidris Minutilla - Least Sandpiper found in the USA

The smallest shorebird is the least sandpiper (Calidris minutilla). The genus name derives from the Ancient Greek kalidris or skalidris, Aristotle’s word for several grey-colored waterside birds. The term minutilla refers to “very small” in Medieval Latin.

Quick Overview: Calidris Minutilla – Least Sandpiper
Body size: Around 6 in (15 cm) and a weight of 33 g (1.16 oz)
Main colors: Brown, White, Black, Yellow-Green
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

Least sandpiper Description

The upper parts of this little sandpiper are brown-scaled, with a rust-brown crown. Dark spots cover the breast and throat; the belly and undertail are white. In flying, the wings have fine white stripes. The black line that runs along the rump reaches all the way to the tail. Legs and feet are yellow-green in color.

Calidris Minutilla - Least Sandpiper found in the USA
Calidris Minutilla – Least Sandpiper. Photo by: Peter Massas


These birds have a length of 6 in (15 cm) and a weight of 33 g (1.16 oz). Their wings could range from 11-12 in (28-30 cm).


During the breeding season, the least sandpiper is located on the tundra, whereas in the winter, it is found on bogs, marshes with open spaces, flooded fields, mudflats, and sandy beaches.


The vast majority of species are found around beaches, estuaries, tide pools, mudflats, and sand bars. Other species live in woodlands, forests, meadows, and the polar tundra, among other habitats.


These sandpipers graze on the most plentiful prey of acceptable size that is available. They often graze in a communal area away from their breeding areas and browse on mudflats and beaches by gleaning and probing.

Calidris Minutilla Scientific Classification

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

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 Least sandpiper in the USA

Breeds in inland Alaska, northern Canada, Labrador, and, in the east, as far south as Nova Scotia and once as far south as Massachusetts. Winters from the Pacific coast to central South America and the West Indies, passing through the southern United States.

The Least 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, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Calidris Minutilla – Least Sandpiper

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