Calidris alba

DescriptionSanderlings are seen on a whale watching boat tour with Eagle Wing Tours in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on Vancouver Island.

A starling-sized shorebird with conspicuous white wing stripe measuring eight inches (20 cm). Summer adults have rufous head and breast and a white belly. In winter, rufous areas replaced by pale gray, and birds look almost white. Bill and legs black.

Habitat

Breeds on tundra; winters on ocean beaches, sandbars, mudflats, and lake and river shores.

Nesting

Four olive eggs, spotted with brown, placed in a hollow on the ground lined with grasses and lichens.

Range

Breeds in high Arctic tundra from Alaska eastward to Baffin Island. Winters along coasts from British Columbia and Massachusetts southward to southern South America. Also in Eurasia.

Voice

A sharp kip. Conversational chatter while feeding.

Discussion

One of the most widespread of all shorebirds, the sanderling turns up on almost every beach in the world. As a wave comes roaring in, the birds run up on the beach just ahead of the breaker, then sprint after the retreating water to feed on the tiny crustaceans and mollusks left exposed.