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Bird Gallery

Least Sandpiper

Least Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper

© Wayne Nicholas

Calidris minutilla

Family: (Scolopacidae) Sandpipers

Preferred Habitat: Coastal flats, marshy ponds, inland wetlands.

Seasonal Occurrence: Common spring and fall. Uncommon other times of the year.


The smallest shorebird in the world, the Least Sandpiper measures 5-6 inches long and weighs about 1 ounce. The Least Sandpiper has a chestnut, white, and black mottled back, white underparts and a black bill. Although yellowish-greenish legs are a good field mark for this species, bad lighting or mud can obscure the color.

These tiny shorebirds begin moving south from their breeding grounds in the Arctic as early as the first week in July, so they are some of the first sandpipers to arrive back in Texas for winter. Look for them on the edges of mudflats or marshes where they walk with a hunched posture and probe for little crustaceans, insects, and other invertebrates. Least Sandpipers prefer grassy areas and are more likely to be seen inland than most sandpipers.

-- Vicki Stittleburg