WESTERN SANDPIPER (Calidris mauri) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Western Sandpiper is a shorebird with a mottled brown back and a reddish-brown head with beige streaks. There is a beige band above the eyes, which are dark brown. Breast is creamy with brown streaks, under parts creamy. Bill is thin and about same length as head, and dark grey. Legs and feet are dark grey.
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Calidris-mauri
NAME: ‘Western’ refers to bird’s main range. ‘Sandpiper’ stems from ‘sand’, and Latin ‘pipa’, which means to ‘chirp’. Latin genus name ‘Calidris’ refers to a grey speckled shorebird. Latin species name ‘mauri’ given to honor Italian botanist Ernesto Mauri.
HABITAT: Tundra, wet meadows, mud flats.
DIET: Insects, crustaceans, molluscs.
NESTING: Nest is a scrape on the ground under thick vegetation. Around four light beige eggs are laid, incubated by both parents. Chick can feed themselves, but cared for by both parents.
DISTRIBUTION: Breeds on western coast of Alaska and some of east Siberia. Winters along the coasts of USA, Caribbean, Mexico south to northern South America. Occasional winter visitor on Hawaii. Vagrant in New Zealand (see note below on bird vagrancy).
Distribution Map: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_sandpiper#/media/File:Calidris_mauri_map.svg
ON PEI: Does not breed on Prince Edward Island, sightings are in summer and fall.
CONSERVATION: Population widespread, not currently at risk.
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: Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Baird’s Sandpiper
REFERENCES: https://www.borealbirds.org/bird/western-sandpiper
http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/westernsandpiper.htm (New Hampshire PBS)
http://fieldguide.mt.gov/speciesDetail.aspx?elcode=ABNNF11050 (Montana Field Guide)
https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Calidris_mauri/ (University of Michigan)
http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/western-sandpiper (New Zealand Birds Online)

Western Sandpiper – Alaska – Aug. 2005 – photo by Tim Bowman, USFWS
Western sandpiper, Tim Bowman, USFWS
Western Sandpiper – Uplands, BC – Sept. 2007 – photo by Alan D. Wilson
Western sandpipers, BC, Alan D. Wilson