The Wandering Tattler is a stocky, medium-sized wading bird, with unpatterned, grayish wings and back, and a barred breast and underside. It is solitary for most of the year, occurring alone or in groups of two or three.
As the name implies, this species is a true wanderer, with a widespread winter range around the entire Pacific basin. Some individuals migrate west across the Pacific all the way to Australia, a journey of 8,000 miles across open ocean. "Tattler" refers to the bird’s voice, a rapid trill of accelerating, descending notes given at the approach of any perceived danger.
The Wandering Tattler feeds on marine invertebrates, aquatic insects, and small fish. This bird forages actively, constantly bobbing its tail and rear end up and down as it walks.
The Wandering Tattler is one of North America's least numerous shorebird species. It is listed by the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan as a Species of Moderate Concern, primarily due to the small number of individuals. Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data suggest significant long-term declines, but it is not well surveyed by the BBS, so population trends need further investigation.