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Bird Gallery

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Semipalmated Sandpiper
Semipalmated Sandpiper (breeding plumage)

© Joseph Kennedy at Texas City Dike, April 19, 2007

Calidris pusilla

Family: (Scolopacidae) Sandpipers

Preferred Habitat: Open flats.

Seasonal Occurrence: Uncommon in spring and fall.

Notes:  The Semipalmated Sandpiper is a small shorebird found in Texas during spring and autumn migration, while they stop to refuel on their long journey between their breeding grounds in Canada and Alaska and their wintering grounds in coastal South America and the Caribbean.

Semipalmated Sandpipers have gray-brown backs, black legs and a white chest with faint streaking. The center of their rump and tail is black. Semipalmated Sandpipers are easily confused with the very similar looking Western Sandpiper. It can be very tricky to tell them apart, however, the best indicators are that Semipalmated Sandpipers are much less front-heavy than Western Sandpipers, with a smaller head and a shorter bill.

Semipalmated Sandpipers get their common name from the short webbing between toes- palmated meaning webbed. The only other small sandpiper with similar webbing is the Western Sandpiper. Semipalmated Sandpipers regularly undertake nonstop transoceanic flights of up to 4000 km during migration. 
-- Jess McClean

Semipalmated Sandpiper
Semipalmated Sandpiper (winter plumage)

© Joseph Kennedy at Bolivar Flats, October 20, 2007