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The western sandpiper (Calidris mauri), which is a small shorebird, is also referred to as a peep and is primarily found in North America and South America and is known to migrate to regions in California in the migratory period of the year. The exact population of these little birds with short bills, even though they are known to be abundant and classified as a species of Least Concern by the IUCN in terms of conservation status, remains unknown due to a lack of targeted study and statistical research concerning the bird’s population trends. However, the loss of habitat of this species of bird to human activities such as drainage of wetlands, is resulting in stress on their natural habitat. Migration during winter of the western sandpiper, from the family Scolopacidae, occurs in large flocks on mudflats and beaches.
Western sandpipers belong to the order Charadriiformes, the family Scolopacidae, and the genus Calidris. Here are some of the most important and interesting facts about this abundant shorebird in South America along the Pacific coast. Afterward, do check our other articles on the spotted sandpiper and purple sandpiper.
The western sandpiper (Calidris mauri) is a type of bird that belongs to the class of Aves because these North American birds have feathers, vertebrate columns, beaks, and lay eggs. Some of these northern birds with short and dark bill winter as far away as northern South America.
As per the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the western sandpiper (Calidris mauri) belongs to the class of birds or Aves, order Charadriiformes, family Scolopacidae, and genus Calidris; that is a category of biological classification in which the warm-blooded vertebrate members are characterized by the presence of feather covering their bodies, forelimbs modified into wings, beaked jaws, high metabolic rate, laying of hard-shelled eggs, strong yet lightweight skeleton and a four-chambered heart.
It is unknown how many western sandpipers there are in the world since no targeted studies or statistical research have been conducted concerning their population trends. However, the western sandpiper is a bird that has a healthy population as of today and can be commonly found in their habitats. As per the IUCN records, the western sandpiper is a species of Least Concern concerning its conservation status. A rough estimate of this species’ headcount all over the world is about 3.5 million.
The western sandpiper lives predominantly in tundra habitats which are slightly drier than their surroundings. The western sandpiper is typically found in Eastern Siberia and Alaska and is known to migrate to regions in California in the winter. This species breeds in extreme northern and western Alaska where they choose dry sites with low shrub layers. They mostly feed in or at the edge of shallow water.
The western sandpiper’s habitats are present in dry tundra stretches of land, which occur at the feet of mountains or coastal lowlands. Their habitats typically have plenty of vegetation such as willow, dwarf birch, sedges, crowberry, and various types of grasses. Western sandpipers usually nest in areas away from their foraging or hunting territories. To forage for food, these birds visit lagoons and ponds, which are generally shallow. The young birds can be found at sites with abundant food sources.
The western sandpiper lives in pairs since this is a typically genetically monogamous species of bird. These birds, in their natural habitat, are extremely possessive of their territories and food sources, and willingly attack or fight other male western sandpipers that try to encroach upon their territory. They can be found living in groups which are called a bind or a contradiction.
The average expected age for a western sandpiper in its natural habitat is about 7 years of age. This species winters along the Pacific Coast from Oregon to Peru, along the Atlantic Coast.
The western sandpiper is known to be a monogamous species of bird in their mating season in the year or during the breeding season. This breeding season starts around halfway through May, wherein male western sandpipers will find suitable females by using their mating call and multiple males will often compete for female western sandpipers. In terms of behavior, females usually only interact with males after the males have attempted to woo them for a while during the breeding season. Males will often engage in wooing rituals that involve behavior wherein the males put their wings up or prop their tails up. Following this, when the female has chosen her mate, the couple will find a nesting ground wherein these North American birds will construct a nest and copulate. Males have been observed to be fiercely protective of their mate as well as the nest once the females lay eggs. The female western sandpiper typically lays a clutch of around four eggs over 24 hours. This hatching of the eggs takes place within a day or two in the nest on the ground, usually under some form of vegetation. The chicks fledge usually 21 days after hatching.
The western sandpiper is classified as a species of Least Concern concerning its conservation status. Currently, the approximate population of the western sandpiper all over the world is 3.5 million birds. However, western sandpipers’ population trends are an unexplored subject.
The western sandpiper is a fairly small bird whose primary colors vary in their lifetimes. The stages in their life occur every year, starting from pre-juveniles to nonbreeding adults. However, most nonbreeding adults are usually colored brown and white, and their extremities are colored black. These avians possess anatomically short and pointed beaks. The bills as well as the short legs of these birds are dark-toned. Morphologically the dorsal parts of Calidris mauri are adorned in brown shades while their abdomens are white. Shades of reddish-brown embellish the crown of these tiny avians.
The western sandpiper owing to its small size is incredibly cute. In fact, on a rating scale of one to five, these birds can easily attain a 3 or 4.
Western sandpipers typically communicate using calls and songs. Their calls can be described as trills and tees. These birds also make use of gestures to communicate with one another. Calls and songs are very common gestures for males to display their arrival and establish dominance.
The western sandpiper measures about 5.5-6.7 in (13.97-17.01 cm) and has a wingspan of about 13 in (33.02 cm). This means that this species of bird is smaller than a little crow.
There are no specific details about the flying speed of western sandpipers. However, the semipalmated sandpiper is quite agile and swift.
This abundant shorebird is fairly light, weighing around 0.04-0.08 lb (0.018-0.036 kg).
No specific terms have been allocated to the members of Calidris mauri based on their gender. The males are referred to as male western sandpipers while the females are known as female western sandpipers.
Since no specific name has been allocated to a western baby sandpiper, it can be referred to by the generic name for a baby bird, a chick.
Western sandpipers are carnivores in terms of diet. As a part of their diet, they mostly eat insects, spiders, and other invertebrates. When near coastal regions, these North American birds have also been known to feed on crustaceans as their primary source of food.
There are no reported incidents of any danger exhibited by western sandpipers. These nesting birds with longer bills do get aggressive with other male western sandpipers due to their territorial nature, but mostly there is no evidence to suggest that this bird is aggressive or dangerous to human beings.
Western sandpipers have not yet been domesticated in any known forms. However, because these wintering birds with longer bills are mostly foragers and are migratory species, it would be a bad idea to entrap them in cages or small spaces as pets as foraging for these birds takes place in wet meadows and tundra.
Western sandpipers are known for an unusual breeding strategy known as polyandry, wherein a female will mate with up to four males during a breeding season.
The oldest living adult western sandpiper that was found in the wild was of age just over nine years.
Despite their tiny sizes, the adult members of western sandpipers are known to compete even with their relative sandpiper species when foraging.
Young chicks fledge around 21 days after hatching.
The name 'sandpiper' actually comes from the birds' voices, rather than from their long-billed probing in the sand.
The sanderling is a type of sandpiper that is simply bigger, plumper, and thicker than the western sandpiper. This wintering bird is also significantly heavier than the sandpiper and unlike the western sandpiper, it is known as a wading bird.
A flock of adult sandpipers is usually referred to as a bind, fling, time-step, or a contradiction of sandpipers.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our solitary sandpiper surprising facts and bateleur eagle fun facts pages.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our Terek Sandpiper coloring pages.
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