Calidris Pusilla – Semipalmated Sandpiper

Calidris Pusilla - Semipalmated Sandpiper found in the US

Calidris pusilla, the semipalmated sandpiper, is a very small shorebird. The genus name derives from the Ancient Greek kalidris or skalidris, Aristotle’s word for several grey-colored waterside birds. The term pusilla is Latin for “very tiny.” It is occasionally grouped alongside other “stints” in Erolia, although despite the fact that these appear to constitute a monophyletic group, the present species’ ancestor genus Ereunetes was postulated prior to Erolia.

Quick Overview: Calidris Pusilla – Semipalmated Sandpiper
Body size: Around 6-7 in (15-18 cm) and a weight of 41 g (1.44 oz)
Main colors: Gray-Brown, Black, White
Range: Eastern 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

Semipalmated sandpiper Description

Scaled gray-brown upperparts, white underparts, and subtle streaking on the breast and sides characterize this little sandpiper. It features a short, thick, straight black bill, black legs and feet, and a short, robust, straight black bill.

Calidris Pusilla - Semipalmated Sandpiper found in the US
Calidris Pusilla – Semipalmated Sandpiper. Photo by: Dan Pancamo


These birds have a length of 6-7 in (15-18 cm) and a weight of 41 g (1.44 oz). Their wings could range from 11-13 in (28-33 cm).


During spring migration, semipalmated sandpipers rely largely on horseshoe crab eggs. Running along the water’s edge, pecking, and probing in the ground along damp or flooded mudflats are all part of the feeding habit.


Shorelines and mudflats are preferred habitats.


Semipalmated sandpipers are migratory shorebirds with a widespread distribution. Numerous individuals gather to embark on 3000–4000 kilometer transatlantic flights between northern Canada and South America. During the non-breeding season, big flocks band together to ward off predators like falcons. Adults, on the other hand, behave monogamously throughout the breeding season, defending territory, nest, and offspring.

Calidris Pusilla Scientific Classification

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

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 Semipalmated sandpiper in the USA

Breeds in the lower Arctic, from western Alaska to Labrador. Migrates from central North America to the Atlantic coast, where it winters from the extreme southern United States to the Caribbean Islands and South America.

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

Calidris Pusilla – Semipalmated Sandpiper

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