Western Sandpiper

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Scientific Information

Adult Western Sandpipers in breeding plumage.
The Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri) is the most abundant breeder on the Seward Peninsula. They have bright rufous color on their heads and greater wing coverts, light spotting on their chests, white bellies, and thick base of their bill. These are small sandpipers about a third smaller than the Dunlins. During breeding season, males will sing and fly over their nesting territory to attract a mate. He will then make scrapes in the ground lining them with sedges, lichen and leaves. The female will choose one of the scrapes as her nesting site. Often she will leave before the eggs hatch or after. Either way, the male will take care of the young.

Community Information



Spoken Name

Relevant Site Information

Locally Western Sandpipers are called "snipe" but they are not closely related to the true snipes like the Wilson's Snipe that are found here. Many Western Sandpipers come to the island to stage and many stay to breed throughout the summer. Local people will hunt for their nests on this island or cross the east channel to the next island while there is still ice to hunt for eggs there. Many young hunters will stalk these birds and will traditionally take their kills to their parents or grandparents to cook.

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