Fun Solitary Sandpiper Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
May 17, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Oluwapelumi Iwayemi
Solitary sandpiper facts about a unique bird of the Scolopacidae family.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.1 Min

The solitary sandpiper (Tringa solitaria) is a migratory species of North American shorebirds. These birds are solitary because they do not migrate in flocks like the rest of the migratory birds of North America.

They belong to the genus Tringa and can be classified into two subspecies based on their breeding ground. These birds breed in North America, then migrate across the West Indies and Central America. They finally enter their wintering grounds in South America.

In North America, their preferred breeding habitat includes boreal forests and woodlands. Their habitat in the wintering grounds constitutes swamps and marshes.

Solitary sandpipers are monogamous. After mating, females lay eggs on deserted nests of other birds. A female bird usually adjusts the abandoned nest according to her preference. The young are precocial or well-developed at birth.

They typically leave the nests shortly after hatching, especially when their downy feathers are dry. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed solitary sandpipers as species of Least Concern. Peregrine falcons and gray jays are known to feed on them.

Continue to read for more fun facts about the solitary sandpiper. If you liked reading this article, check out our articles on snowy egrets and limpkin.

Solitary Sandpiper Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a solitary sandpiper?

The solitary sandpiper is a shorebird that belongs to the order Charadriiformes, family Scolopacidae. It is a migratory species of bird belonging to the genus Tringa.

What class of animal does a solitary sandpiper belong to?

Solitary sandpiper (Tringa solitaria) belongs to the class Aves.

How many solitary sandpipers are there in the world?

The population is estimated to be around 150,000 individuals globally according to the IUCN. However, their population is decreasing in number.

Where does a solitary sandpiper live?

Solitary sandpipers are mostly found in North America. The breeding ground of these North American birds ranges from Labrador in Canada to Alaska in the United States.

A few of the eastern subspecies breed in the Yukon territory in Canada. The breeding range of the western subspecies extends from Manitoba to western Alaska.

They migrate across the United States, the West Indies, and Central America to enter their wintering grounds in South America. They reside in the Amazon River basin, Paraguay, Bolivia, and the south-central parts of Argentina in South America.

What is a solitary sandpiper's habitat?

The habitat of these North American birds during their breeding season comprises woodlands and boreal forests. The woodland habitat comprises trees, forming a continuous canopy and creating shade over the ground. Boreal forests consist of coniferous trees like pines, larches, and spruces.

Muskeg bogs or low-lying marshes are common in this region. The temperature remains low throughout the year with minimum rainfall. In winter, they are found residing along the banks of rivers or streams. The habitat found in this region consists of marshes and swamps.

These are the transitional areas between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The vegetation mostly constitutes of shrubs, herbs, weeds, and mangrove trees. These birds prefer freshwater bodies and avoid salt water.

Who do solitary sandpipers live with?

Solitary sandpipers are generally found alone, as their name suggests. They also sometimes live in groups consisting of up to 20 individuals. These groups are also called bind, fling, hill, contradiction, or two-step.

How long does a solitary sandpiper live?

The exact lifespan of these birds is not known. However, other species of the genus Tringa usually live up to seven to 26 years.

How do they reproduce?

These birds are monogamous. During the breeding season in summer, male birds attract females through various forms of courtship displays.

These birds rarely build their nests. Females lay eggs on deserted nests of songbirds like American robins, rusty blackbirds, eastern kingbirds, and other passerine birds. The female solitary sandpipers adjust these abandoned nests according to their comfort, while the males defend their nesting ground.

Unlike other birds of North America of their kind, they do not nest on the floor. The nest is found away from the water surface and built at an elevation.

They copulate at their feeding grounds and lay eggs after five days. The clutch size of a female bird ranges from three to five eggs. The eggs are greenish-white in color with reddish-brown spots and are incubated for 23 to 24 days.

Females lay eggs once a year from May to June. The young are precocial or well-developed at birth, and they leave the nests shortly after birth.

What is their conservation status?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed solitary sandpipers as a species of Least Concern. These birds are protected under the United States Migratory Bird Treaty Act. However, the destruction of habitat and climate change are some of the major threats faced by them

Solitary Sandpiper Fun Facts

What do solitary sandpipers look like?

Both subspecies of solitary sandpipers have some similarities and some differences. They exhibit sexual dimorphism where females are slightly larger than males. Both species have a grayish head, distinct white eye-ring, olive-colored legs, and thin bill.

The white belly and dark wings on the underside are visible during flight. The western subspecies are more significant than the eastern subspecies. Western solitary sandpipers have brownish-olive plumage with spotted feathers. Juveniles have similar colored plumage with buff spots.

The eastern subspecies have dusky black plumage with spotless feathers. Although, some of the species might have mottling or spots. Juvenile eastern solitary sandpipers have dark brown plumage with grayish-white spots.

A solitary sandpiper on the ground.

How cute are they?

Their cuteness usually stems from their appearance. The presence of an olive-brown plumage, thin bill, olive legs, and white eye-ring makes them attractive.

How do they communicate?

They usually communicate through a wide range of vocalizations. Their calls are usually very high-pitched and are classified into five different types. Along with the calls, they also have two distinct songs.

Chicks can communicate through six different types of calls. The alarm-attack call and alarm-flee call generally signify danger or threats from predators.

There is another type of call known as a contact call, used to keep the partner closer during brooding and establish familial contact. Adult birds usually sing to attract mates during the breeding season. Their songs are also used in establishing territories and protecting them against intruders.

How big is a solitary sandpiper?

These birds are usually 7.4-9 in (19-23 cm) long. They are slightly larger than a spotted sandpiper which is 3.9-7 in (10-18 cm) long, another species of the same family Scolopacidae.

How fast can a solitary sandpiper fly?

The speed of their flight is not known. However, their flight consists of short glides and rapid wing beats. They generally fly close to the surface of water or near the ground.

How much does a solitary sandpiper weigh?

These birds weigh around 1-2.2 oz (31-65 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Scientists do not have specific names for male and female solitary sandpipers. They are commonly referred to as male solitary sandpipers and female solitary sandpipers.

What would you call a baby solitary sandpiper?

A baby solitary sandpiper is referred to as a chick.

What do they eat?

These carnivorous birds eat a variety of insects like grasshoppers, beetles, mosquito larvae, spiders, worms, and caterpillars. Their diet also consists of mollusks and small crustaceans. These birds usually pick their prey from the edges of shallow water.

Are they aggressive?

These birds, especially males, can become aggressive toward others while defending their territories. They are territorial and chase away intruders who enter their territory. They also form groups to defend territories belonging to individuals of the same species.

Would they make a good pet?

No, solitary sandpipers do not make good pets. They are wild birds, aggressive and territorial. They generally avoid any form of interaction with humans. Hunting or keeping them under confinement is also illegal in various parts of the world.

Did you know...

A solitary sandpiper (Tringa solitaria) belongs to the genus Tringa. The Latin word 'tringa' was given to these shorebirds by Ulisse Aldrovandi, an Italian naturalist in 1599. The name has been coined from the Ancient Greek word 'trungas'. It denotes a species of wading bird, first identified by Aristotle.

The word 'solitary' has originated from the Latin word 'solitaria' meaning 'alone'.

What is unique about a solitary sandpiper?

These birds do not fly in large flocks but alone during migration, unlike other North American shorebirds. This is why they are called solitary.

However, they sometimes form groups with other birds of the same species. They also breed in the deserted nests of other birds like the American robin, rusty blackbird, and eastern kingbird. They do not nest on the ground, but at a higher elevation, again unlike similar bird species.

How does a solitary sandpiper compare to other similar birds?

In solitary sandpipers vs. spotted sandpipers,  solitary sandpipers have a sharper and more high-pitched voice than spotted sandpipers, a similar species of the Scolopacidae family. Female spotted sandpipers defend their territories while male solitary sandpipers guard theirs. In solitary sandpipers vs lesser yellowlegs, solitary sandpipers are slightly shorter than lesser yellowlegs, a similar shorebird of the genus Tringa.

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 the American oystercatcher, or snow goose.

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

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Oluwapelumi Iwayemi

Bachelor of Science specializing in Systems Engineering

Oluwapelumi Iwayemi picture

Oluwapelumi IwayemiBachelor of Science specializing in Systems Engineering

Iwayemi is a creative content writer and editor studying for a Bachelor of Science specializing in Systems Engineering from the University of Lagos. He is skilled in research and has experience writing and editing content for different organizations.

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