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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 11, 2021

Common Sandpiper: 15 Facts You Won't Believe!

Fly into the world of exciting common sandpiper facts!

A familiar bird that can be easily found throughout the world, the common sandpiper is a migratory bird belonging to the Actitis genus. This wader (Actitis hypoleucos) is closely related to the only other species under this genus, spotted sandpipers (Actitis macularia).

This species of the Scolopacidae family has more names, such as the summer snipe or the Eurasian sandpiper. The global range of this species is far and wide, extending from Europe and Asia in the spring days, to Africa, southern Asia, and Australia in the winter season by carrying out migration.

Crustaceans, insects, and mollusks are the top favorites of this little bird. Their nests are usually near freshwater sources and make short 'twee-wee' chirps while flying. The summer snipe also walks on the ground by bobbing around its tail and head.  They can live for up to 12 long years in the wild. Ever wondering how to identify a common sandpiper in flight? It is easy, just note the distinctive stiff wings soaring through the clouds!

For more relatable content, check out these vermillion flycatcher facts and cockatoo facts for kids.

Common Sandpiper Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a common sandpiper?

The common sandpiper bird is a type of shorebird.

What class of animal do common sandpipers belong to?

The common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) falls in the class of birds.

How many common sandpipers are there in the world?

About 2,600,000 - 3,200,000 birds of the common sandpiper breeds have been estimated to be surviving around the world.

Where do common sandpipers live?

The common sandpiper distribution is spread throughout the subtropical and temperate Eurasian lands. They migrate to Australia, southern Asia, and Africa in the cold winter months.

What is a common sandpiper's habitat?

You can find this species dwelling in various habitats. As the breeding season nears, the summer snipe population moves near river banks and sandy coasts along fast-moving waters.

They can settle even in mountains if the environmental conditions seem satisfactory. They are capable of surviving heavy rains and an extreme range of day-night temperature fluctuations in temperate zones. When the mating season ends and winter approaches, they shift to tropical wetland regions in the south. They then chose habitats such as estuaries, mangroves, canals, ponds, and rivers.

They avoid extremely hot regions as well as snowy areas.

Who do common sandpipers live with?

This bird species is said to live together in flocks.

How long do common sandpipers live?

In the wild, these sandpipers can live for up to 12 years.

How do they reproduce?

These birds are entirely faithful to their partners and form monogamous bonds every breeding season. The male is extremely protective, defending his partner as well as his territory if he senses anything approaching. It makes threatening displays, such as extending the wings wide open. This would make the intruders think that the male is ready for a fight and back off. The female may also join in posing defensively, but does not join any fights.

In the northern hemisphere, the breeding season of common sandpipers occurs between the months of May to June. Nests are made in small shallow depressions in the ground, and they are left unlined. They are usually built within 164 ft (50 m) from freshwater sources by female sandpipers. The clutch size is usually four eggs. Both parents carry on her incubation duties for around three weeks. In the first two weeks of June, the chicks hatch open. These nestlings are precocial and fledging takes place between 3-4 weeks. If the young chicks sense any threat, they stay near their parents or tend to cling on to them so that they can be taken away to safety. Both adult sandpipers ensure the safety of their little ones. Research has shown that these young ones grow faster in warmer temperatures. They grow up quickly and mature at around two years of age. For their first summer, young common sandpipers stay behind on the same wintering grounds.

It is said that more than one clutch may be given by these birds of the Scolopacidae family.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of this species is 'Least Concern'.

Common Sandpiper Fun Facts

What do common sandpipers look like?

The common sandpiper identification begins with its body color. This bird has grey-brown upperparts, such as the face, the breast, and the nape. The bird also has white underparts. The wings, tails, and backs are of dark brown hue, with shades of tan. The belly is also white in color. Summer snipes have short legs, usually of a mustard brown or olive hue. They have round heads. The common sandpiper bill length is long when compared to the size of their heads. These bills have a pale grey base and a dark tip. The winter plumage of the summer snipes is duller, and you can note the dark brown barring present on the wings if you go close. The common sandpiper juvenile has more dark barring, and the edge of the feathers of their wings is buffed. The eyes have a small white ring around them. The eyes have black irises. Females are slightly bigger when compared to males.

The non-breeding plumage of this species is very similar to that of spotted sandpipers.

The common sandpiper bobs its head and tail as it walks on the ground.

How cute are they?

We do love these birds are find them really cute!

How do they communicate?

These birds make continuous 'twee-wee-wee' sounds to communicate with other birds of their genus. They also rely on body postures to express their thoughts. They make quite a noise when moving around, in-flight or breeding, but prefer eating in silence.

How big is a common sandpiper?

An adult summer snipe grows up to 7-8.66 in (18-22 cm) long. It has a wide wingspan extending up to 12.6-13.78 in (32-35 cm).

This makes them about twice the size of the Calliope hummingbird, in reference to its body size.

How fast can common sandpipers fly?

We do not know the speed of the common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) in flight as it has not been recorded.

How much do common sandpipers weigh?

This little bird weighs just about 1.41-2.11 oz (40-60 g). While hatching, they weigh just about 0.28 oz (8 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for the male and female birds of this species that belong to the Scolopacidae family.

What would you call a baby common sandpiper?

Generally, a baby bird is called a hatchling or a chick.

What do they eat?

This bird is known to capture food entirely by sight either in shallow waters or on the ground. They feed on crustaceans like shrimp, worms, spiders, terrestrial and aquatic insects like bugs, crickets, and grasshoppers, and other small invertebrates. Sometimes, they even grasp insects in their mouth while flying. If there are any boats near the coast with scraps lying around, these birds would not think twice to swoop down and capture the food. There have also been instances where common sandpipers have fed on tadpoles, small amphibians, small fish, and even seeds. They tear down their prey in smaller chunks and feed on it. Other items in their meal include annelids, insect larvae, and mollusks.

Are they poisonous?

The common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) species is not at all poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

We do love the idea of keeping these birds as pets!

Did you know...

The people of the Nukumanu Islands of Papua New Guinea call this bird ‘tiritavoi’ in the Nukumanu language.

The AEWA (Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds) applies to the common sandpiper breeds.

Though it is a species of least concern, summer snipes are vulnerable in few Australian states. Thus, effective conservation measures are to be taken to save their populations.

These birds are mainly active during bright hours.

This bird is actually very similar to the spotted sandpiper!

The common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) is a parapatric species.

Hybridization with other species like the green sandpiper threatens the total population of pure common sandpipers.

The genus name of this bird, Actitis, is derived from ‘aktites’, an Ancient Greek term that translates to ‘coast-dweller’. Aktites was in turn derived from ‘akte’, which means ‘coast'

The spotted sandpiper is commonly found in North America and South America.

The breeding range of the spotted sandpiper is across Canada and the United States, and then they migrate to South America, the Caribbean, and the regions of the southern United States.

The birds of this species tend to be carriers of various blood parasites.

Throughout North India, common sandpiper birds are called 'kottan'.

How do you identify common sandpipers?

You can identify the common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) birds easily as they fly, as they glide across the sky using stiff, bowed wings. You can also guess these birds from their habits, such as distinct head-bobbing and tail-fluttering while marching on the ground.

Though the resemblance has been noticed, this bird can be distinguished from the spotted sandpiper by its physical description. The summer snipe has darker legs, feet, and long feathers on the tail. They also have a crisper pattern on their wings, which is well visible during flight.

Do common sandpipers migrate?

Yes, summer snipe breeds are known to undergo migration to long distances in groups of at least 30 birds. In the warm spring days, they migrate to habitats having warm climates, resting along coastlines. As the winter season approaches, this bird flies down to southern Asia, Australia, and Africa. The eastern edge of the snipe's migration path has a small stop at Palau, Micronesia, where flocks of this bird gather around for a break. They then bid farewell to Palau and go to their breeding habitats around the time of April end. They fly pretty close to the water or ground level.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Amazon parrot facts and mountain chickadee facts pages.

You can even keep yourself occupied at home by coloring on one of our free printable common sandpiper coloring pages.

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