Sunday, September 5, 2010

Least Sandpiper from Egg to Adult

Inspired by a post by Corey on 10,000 Birds, I decided to put together a post of Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla) showing all stages in development, from egg, to chick, to fledgling, to juvenile, to adult. All of these pictures were taken while I was helping with research on Hudsonian Godwits in Churchill, MB.

Adult Least Sandpiper on territory in Churchill Manitoba.

As with many other breeding shorebirds in Churchill, Least Sandpipers on the breeding grounds behave very differently than how most of us think of them. This adult Least Sandpiper is sitting atop a small larch as it yells at me, trying to get me away from its nest.

Adult Least Sandpiper sitting on its nest. Their cryptic plumage and their nest placement provides good concealment from predators.

Least Sandpiper nest. A full clutch typically consists of four eggs. Note my foot in the corner of the lower picture for a sense of scale... they are very tiny nests. Nests tend to be quite well concealed under a small clump of sedge or a small shrub (usually birch).

Recently hatched Least Sandpiper chicks.

Least Sandpiper at fledging. This individual was able to fly about 10 feet at at time. Note the juvenile-type plumage of the back and coverts, but the retained fuzzy head and short primaries. In addition, this bird was still making "peeping" noises and an adult was still nearby.

This recently fledged Least Sandpiper was really neat, because in all aspects it looked like an average juvenile Least Sandpiper, except it still retained some down on the head. This bird was fully capable of flying, and had the normal call of Least Sandpipers.

After fledging completely, and losing all of their fluffiness, juvenile Least Sandpipers begin to move. This juvenile Least Sandpiper was photographed at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (photo by Corey Finger)


  1. Baby sandpipers make my heart melt.

  2. Your shorebird shots are incredible.


  3. So adorable. My daughters and I are reading the Burgess'Bird Book for Children. We have just finished the chapter about the sandpiper and their eggs. Your photos help us complete the picture. Thank you!

  4. my friend and I rescued a sandpiper a week ago with mared wing we have housed it now and soon we will release it in a safe invirment its a joy to care for it and a true peace of mind to set it free please for all bird lovers learn how to care for an injured bird and do your part in giving to nature

  5. learn how to save a birds life as we did