WatchList Species Account for White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis)

Qualifies for the list as a Declining Yellow List Species


Photo: USFWS
Photo: Greg Lavaty

This small sandpiper undertakes one of the longest migrations in the Western Hemisphere—from its breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic to the southern part of South America. Much of the journey is in long non-stop flights. Many of the conservation problems the bird faces have to do with destruction or degradation of stopover sites between the endpoints of the annual migration. Staging areas are of primary importance for the bird; one of the most important during the northward flight is Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas, where up to 90% of the bird’s population stops and stores up energy in preparation for the final stretch of the trip to the Arctic. Drying of the area due to deep well irrigation for agriculture degrades the habitat and puts stress on a bird that depends on this site in a critical time of its annual cycle. Another important site is at Decatur, Alabama, where, as at Cheyenne Bottoms, as many as 30.000 to 40.000 individuals of the species stop during the annual trip. The importance of conserving such areas is critical in the species’ preservation.


The bird nests on well-vegetated wet tundra typically near ponds, lakes or streams, both inland and near the coast. Where it winters the bird is found in intertidal zones, salt- and freshwater marsh, and flooded fields. The bird forages by probing on mudflats or tundra or capturing prey by sight in shallow water. It mainly eats insects, mollusks and marine worms, with some plant material.