Fun Semipalmated Sandpiper Facts For Kids

Rhea Nischal
May 18, 2023 By Rhea Nischal
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Deeti Gupta
Semipalmated sandpiper facts about a unique bird species.

The Semipalmated Sandpiper, Calidris pusilla, is very small. It is quite tiny and its length can range from 5-6 in (12–15 cm). Its wingspan can be anywhere between 13.8-14.6 in (35-37 cm).

They have black legs along with a dark-colored bill. When these birds are together in significant numbers, they are also known as stints or peeps like the North American sandpipers. They construct their nests on land instead of trees.

The male and female incubate the eggs together. These birds eat crustaceans and aquatic insects majorly.

They can be spotted in South America, the United States, Europe, Canada, and Europe. They are abundant in North America and are extremely familiar. They are migratory birds that endure migration to reside in the best environment.

They migrate due to season changes. This species is Near Threatened currently and it's a proven fact that their population is declining steadily due to human activities which have caused habitat loss for these birds. Hunting of these birds is illegal in North America for their conservation.

If you like reading about the Semipalmated Sandpiper, do read our animal facts about the least sandpiper and snowy egret.

Semipalmated Sandpiper Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Semipalmated Sandpiper?

The Semipalmated Sandpiper, Calidris pusilla, is a carnivorous bird of the order Charadriiformes, family Scolopacidae, and genus Calidris.

What class of animal does a Semipalmated Sandpiper belong to?

This species of Sandpiper belongs to the class Aves and the genus Calidris. The genus name is derived from the Greek word ‘kalidris’ which Aristotle often used to describe certain waterside birds of a gray color.

How many Semipalmated Sandpipers are there in the world?

The population of Semipalmated sandpipers is unknown in the present day. However, Semipalmated Sandpipers are one of North America's most widespread shorebirds. But surveys conducted between 1974-1998 continuously revealed negative patterns. The data showed a substantial average drop from 1976-2008 of more than 1,000 birds.

Where does a Semipalmated Sandpiper live?

These species, which can often be seen on shores, are migratory birds. During the breeding season, they can be spotted on the northern Alaska coast and Hudson Bay coast.

Whereas throughout the non-breeding period, migration takes place. During migration, these birds migrate 1864-2485 mi (3000-4000 km) to their wintering grounds in South America from North America and Canada. This species can be seen migrating towards Central America, coastal South America, and the Caribbean.

Although, some birds of this species also believe in short-flight migration. They migrate to areas that are closer to where they live. Migration occurs in large flocks of 350,000 birds or more.

This species follows strict migration tracks. They pause their journey only at places like the Bay of Fundy in Canada and the Delaware Bay which is in the U.S.

What is a Semipalmated Sandpiper's habitat?

These birds prefer habitats that are open for their breeding grounds. You can spot Semipalmated sandpipers usually along shorelines. When they migrate, they can be also seen in fields, marshes, rivers, lakes, and wetlands.

They are searching for food on the sandy shores. They search for food commonly near rivers, pools, lakes, sandy shores, and deltas. They can also be spotted on mudflats along with the Western and Least sandpipers, who happen to be their relatives.

Who do Semipalmated Sandpipers live with?

The Semipalmated Sandpiper, Calidris pusilla, is a shorebird that goes through a migration period annually. Flocks of these birds migrate together to go on long transatlantic journeys.

These flocks also defend their species from predators like falcons when the non-breeding season is going on. But during the breeding season, these birds live in a pair, lay eggs in their nests, and then defend themselves.

How long does a Semipalmated Sandpiper live?

These birds can live within the range of 8-16 years.

How do they reproduce?

The male semipalmated sandpipers travel to the arctic breeding ground before the females. They travel in late May and mark their territory.

They try to mate with a female by attracting them with their sharp cries or hovering with aerial displays. After they have found a suitable mate, the male sandpipers construct depressions of little depth, and the female chooses which depression to lay eggs into. The sandpipers breed on the arctic tundra which is in northern Canada, with water nearby.

One egg is laid each day for four days. They can raise four young.

The eggs are incubated by both female and male sandpipers. When the egg hatches, the young ones start to forage for insects. The young look for food in the wetlands of the Arctic tundra and mudflats.

The young are left by their mothers at the age of 10 days and they gain the ability to fly at the age of 14 days. Although the fathers, continue to care for the young for 19 days.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of this species is Near Threatened as per the IUCN's Red List. Although they are widespread and abundant in numbers, their illegal hunting takes place on their wintering grounds which has caused a minor decline in the numbers.

Semipalmated Sandpiper Fun Facts

What do Semipalmated Sandpipers look like?

These sandpipers are quite small shorebirds that are anywhere between  0.7-1.1 oz (20-32 g)and are 5-6 in (12–15 cm) long. On the upper side, it is gray and brown with a small white wing line, and on the lower side, it has a white belly.

It has a black bill with a pointed tip and black legs. The toes of this species are partially webbed enabling them to stroll on mudflats and not sink. The male and female sandpipers have a similar appearance.

A semipalmated sandpiper on a rocky surface.

How cute are they?

These birds are very cute as they are quite small in size and have a pure white belly. They have an appealing scaly pattern on their upper sides and a variety of colors.

How do they communicate?

This bird communicates both vocally and visually. Many calls have been made in response to particular circumstances and purposes. To express protection, a soft 'cher' is frequently made by birds of a small roosting flock. When predators are sensed, this 'cher' is immediately replaced with a noisy 'churt.'

How big is a Semipalmated Sandpiper?

The semipalmated sandpiper is quite small and is 5-6 in (12–15 cm) long.

How fast can a Semipalmated Sandpiper fly?

This bird has an average pace of 50 mph (90 kph) and can fly from the Bay of Fundy to the northeast shore of South America without stopping in approximately 72 hours.

How much does a Semipalmated Sandpiper weigh?

This species of sandpipers, of order Charadriiformes, family Scolopacidae, and genus Calidris, weigh anywhere between  0.7-1.1 oz (20-32 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There is no particular name for the male and female birds of this species. Although, like the North American sandpipers, they are also known as stints or peeps when seen in flocks.

What would you call a baby Semipalmated Sandpiper?

Baby Sandpipers are referred to as young or chicks. For their first summer, these chicks stay on wintering grounds.

What do they eat?

Their diet includes a vast range of seeds and aquatic invertebrates and depends upon the season. They also feed on flies and a fly's larvae, snails, and spiders.

During their migration journey from New England to South America, they take few stops and feed in locations like the Delaware Bay and the Bay of Fundy, although they have fat reserves which keep them driven. Their main predators are falcons, from which they protect themselves by gathering together in flocks.

Are they aggressive?

No, these birds are not known to be aggressive. Although they prefer to keep their interactions with humans minimal as they aren't very friendly. They are defensive towards their own. They protect their nests and young efficiently.

Would they make a good pet?

No, these birds are not appropriate to become pets. They're wild birds that don't want to associate with people. It is also illegal to kill, trap, harass, or possess this bird in most countries.

Did you know...

Semipalmated Sandpipers from eastern populations are assumed to fly continuously from New England and the South part of Canada to South America, covering a distance of 1,900-2,500 mi (3,000 to 4,000 km) driven by fat reserves.

Apart from Semipalmated Sandpipers, the only small sandpiper bird which has webbed toes is the Western Sandpiper.

It is an animal that can be often confused with the Sanderling. The bill of the sandpiper is narrower and finer-tipped, and its legs are slender and more delicate with a slimmer midsection, whereas the Sanderling is heavier, has thicker legs, and a straight, broader bill.

Naming the Semipalmated Sandpiper

This bird is named after the small webs that stretch between its toes. Their name, Semipalmated, refers to being half-webbed. The toes of these sandpipers are partially webbed enabling them to stroll on mudflats and not sink.

Comparisons With Similar Birds

Semipalmated sandpiper vs. Western sandpiper

Western sandpipers have a front appearance with a wider torso, larger head, and thicker neck when compared with semipalmated sandpipers. To maintain balance, they stand more erect while at rest.

The Western Sandpiper is bigger than the Semipalmated Sandpiper by a slight margin, but the variation is so small that you'd have to see them side by side to distinguish them apart.

Least Sandpiper vs. Semipalmated Sandpiper

When compared with the Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers have larger bills. They have gray backs instead of brown and have stouter bills. Their legs are black in color instead of yellow like the least sandpiper.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover. Learn more about some other birds including sanderling or swans.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Semipalmated sandpiper coloring pages.

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Written by Rhea Nischal

Bachelor of Business Administration specializing in Management

Rhea Nischal picture

Rhea NischalBachelor of Business Administration specializing in Management

A background in Business Administration and Management from MCM DAV College, Rhea has led her to work for her father's global business. However, her passion for content production, where she manages operations to ensure all processes run smoothly. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the piano and spending time with her one-year-old nephew.

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Fact-checked by Deeti Gupta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Deeti Gupta picture

Deeti GuptaBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

A detail-oriented fact-checker with a research-oriented approach. Devika has a passion for creative writing, she has been published on multiple digital publishing platforms and editorials before joining the Kidadl team. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from St.Xavier's College, Deeti has won several accolades and writing competitions throughout her academic career.

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