SOLITARY SANDPIPER(Tringa solitaria) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Solitary Sandpiper is a shorebird that is brown on top with white streaks. The head is light brown and the middle of the breast is white with brown streaks, with the reverse pattern for the breast sides. The under parts are white. The bill and the legs are dark, and there is a white ring around the eye. Sexes are similar. This bird is relatively small at around 20 cm (9 inches) long.
NAME: The English name ‘Sandpiper’ stems from ‘sand’, and Latin ‘pipa’, which means to ‘chirp’. The word ‘Solitary’ in the name stems from the fact that this doesn’t form large flocks during migration. The Latin genus name ‘Tringa’ refers to a bird with a white rump and a bobbing tail in ancient Greece.
HABITAT: Fresh water habitat such as ponds, forest swamps, flooded fields or ditches.
DIET: Invertebrates.
NESTING: The solitary sandpiper, as opposed to other shorebirds that nest on the ground, nests in trees. In addition, it does not build its own nest, but rather uses the abandoned nests of songbirds. Usually four green eggs are laid, which are incubated by both parents. Little is known about the chicks, other than they presumably have to climb down the nest and feed themselves.
DISTRIBUTION: The breeding range of this sandpiper encompasses most of Canada except the tundra, and Alaska. During migration it is observed in eastern Canada and the USA except the western region. It spends the winter to souther Mexico, Central America and South America (except the Andes region).Some individuals have been able to reach Hawaii. (See note below on bird vagrancy.)
Distribution map:
ON PEI: The solitary sandpiper is an uncommon visitor to Prince Edward Island in the fall during its migration.
CONSERVATION: The population of this sandpiper is difficult to assess due to the remoteness of its nesting locations and its solitary habits.
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: Lesser Yellowlegs, Greater Yellowlegs, Stilt Sandpiper

Solitary sandpiper – Stream in Summerside, PEI – Aug.7, 2017 – © Marie Smith
Solitary sandpiper, PEI, Marie Smith
Solitary sandpiper in a stream in Summerside, PEI – Aug. 7, 2017 – © Marie Smith
Solitary sandpiper, PEI, Marie Smith
Solitary sandpiper with Greater Yellowlegs – Stream in Summerside, PEI – Aug. 7, 2017 – © Marie Smith
Solitary sandpiper with Greater
yellowlegs, by Marie Smith