Broad-billed Sandpiper (Limicola falcinellus)

Broad-billed Sandpiper

[order] CHARADRIIFORMES | [family] Scolopacidae | [latin] Limicola falcinellus | [UK] Broad-billed Sandpiper | [FR] Becasseau falcinelle | [DE] Sumpflaufer | [ES] Correlimos falcinelo | [NL] Breedbekstrandloper


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Tryngites falcinellus
Limicola falcinellus EU n AF, OR, AU, also Middle East
Limicola falcinellus falcinellus n Europe to nw Siberia e and s Africa to s India
Limicola falcinellus sibirica ne Siberia ne India to Australia

Physical charateristics

Small shoreline wader, slightly smaller than Calidris alpina with long, broad bill decurved at tip.
Distinctive split supercilium, short legs, black mantle and scapulars with whitish fringes in fresh plumage, and whitish lines down edges. Wing coverts grey-brown with whitish fringes.
Female averages larger. Non-breeding adult has grey-brown upperparts with dark streaks or feather centres and white fringes. Underparts white, but breast with faint grey-brown streaks.
Race sibirica has brighter rufous fringes to feathers upperparts, also distinguished by broader lower supercilium and narrower upper supercilium.

Listen to the sound of Broad-billed Sandpiper

[audio: Sandpiper.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 36 cm wingspan max.: 39 cm
size min.: 16 cm size max.: 18 cm
incubation min.: 21 days incubation max.: 22 days
fledging min.: 13 days fledging max.: 22 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


Eurasia : North


Subarctic lowland zone, possibly up to northernmost taiga, in wet bogs and on open peatland.
Race sibirica breeds in wet Arctic tundra.
During migration, species occurs in soft muddy areas on shores of ponds and lakes, also found on windflats, shallow freshwater to saline, lagoons, overgrazed meadows, inlets of fjords and river sandbanks.


Egg laying in June July in Russia, June in Fenno-Scandia. Pairs bond monogamous, in loose colonies up to 10 pairs, male aggressively territorial. Nest is a cup lined with vegetation, often on top of tussock. 3-4 aggs are laid in a single brood, incubation 21 days. Chicks have chestnut or hazel brown upperparts, with bold black bands and lines of powder-puff, contrasting white underparts and buff tinged breast. Chicks tended by both parents, but female deserts before fledging.

Feeding habits

Nereids, and marine worms, snails, bivalves, crustaceans, insects and sometimes seeds.
While feeding, walks slowly, picking from side to side and occasionally drilling and probing, often with head at typical sideways angle. May make short runs, feeds on soft mud or wet sand and occasionally wades in shallow water.
Singly or in small flocks, sometimes mingling with other waders.


This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 100,000-1,000,000 km2. It has a large global population estimated to be 71,000-160,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2002). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Limicola falcinellus is a widespread summer visitor to Fennoscandia and northern
Russia, with Europe accounting for less than half of its global breeding range. Its
European breeding population is small (as few as 9,200 pairs), and underwent a large
decline between 1970-1990. Although its populations in Norway and Russia were
stable during 1990-2000, the species continued to decline in its Finnish stronghold
(the trend in Sweden was unknown), and it probably underwent a moderate decline
(>10%) overall. Consequently, it is provisionally evaluated as Declining.
Broad-billed Sandpiper status Least Concern


Migratory, but winter range of west Palearctic breeding population poorly known. Autumn passage (reversed in spring) largely south to south-east across Europe, broad-front, and overland; scarce to rare west of a line from western Baltic to Italy. However, identification difficulties may have exaggerated scarcity in western Europe. In British Isles, for example, annual since 1972; high proportion of spring records suggests possibility of virtually undetected small-scale movement through western Europe. Records from southern France, especially Camargue, indicate sparse but regular passage there in May and August. Main winter range probably Red Sea, and Persian Gulf to India and Sri Lanka, and (especially) north-east and eastern Africa.

Distribution map

Broad-billed Sandpiper distribution range map

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