SHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER (Calidris acuminata) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper breeding adult has medium brown upper parts with feathers edged in white in a scaly pattern on the back. Crown is rufous brown. There is a light beige band across the eye. Throat and breast are light rufous with brown streaks and spots. Underside is white. Eyes and bill are black. Legs and feet are yellow. Juvenile has brighter colors. This shorebird is around 20 cm long (8 inches).
NAME: ‘Sandpiper’ stems from ‘sand’, and Latin ‘pipa’, which means to ‘chirp’. Latin genus name ‘Calidris’ refers to a grey speckled shorebird. Latin species name ‘acuminata’ means ‘pointed’.
HABITAT: Wetlands, mudflats, grassy areas, estuaries.
DIET: Probe the mud for insects and other invertebrates, also eat some seeds.
BREEDING/NESTING: Male mates with several females. Nest is a shallow depression on the ground in a well-hidden area. About four green-brown eggs are laid, incubated by female. Chicks leave the nest soon after hatching and can feed themselves, but cared for by female.
DISTRIBUTION: Breeds in the Arctic tundra of East Siberia. Migrates along eastern Russia, China and Japan, and winters in eastern Indonesia, in Australia and New Zealand. Some individuals have been observed as far away as Hawaii.
Distribution Map:
ON PEI: Does not breed on Prince Edward Island, sightings listed as ‘accidental’ so far. See note below on bird vagrancy.
CONSERVATION: Population widespread, but numbers might be impacted by pollution of the Yellow Sea, an important staging area during migration. Not currently listed at risk.
NOTES: This species breeds with the Pectoral Sandpiper.
Vagrancy: In biology this means an animal going way outside its normal range. For birds, this can happen when there are storms and they get blown off course. On other times, the bird simply wanders in a different direction than usual. Here’s an article about vagrancy in birds.
SIMILAR SPECIES: Pectoral Sandpiper, Baird’s Sandpiper

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper – Cairns, Queensland, Australia – Nov. 2014 – photo by Donald Hobern
Sharp-tailed sandpiper, Donald Hobern
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper – New South Wales, Australia – Feb. 2014 – photo by J.J. Harrison
Sharp-tailed sandpiper, by J.J. Harrison
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper close up – Mie prefecture, Japan – May 2013 – photo by Alpsdake
Sharp-tailed sandpiper, by Alpsdake