Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Tryngites subruficollis)

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

[order] CHARADRIIFORMES | [family] Scolopacidae | [latin] Tryngites subruficollis | [UK] Buff-breasted Sandpiper | [FR] Becasseau roussatre | [DE] Graslaufer | [ES] Correlimos Canelo | [NL] Blonde Ruiter


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Philomachus subruficollis
Tryngites subruficollis NA n, also ne EU se SA

Physical charateristics

This upland shorebird has an unstreaked buff-colored breast, yellow legs, and a brown and buff mottled back. It has a dark tail and rump, streaked like the rest of the back. Its short, narrow bill and round head give it a plover-like appearance. Its underwings are silvery-white. Breeding and non-breeding adults look quite similar. Juveniles are darker and grayer, and have a scaly pattern on their backs.
Buff-breasted Sandpipers roost in large flocks, although their numbers in Washington are not large enough for single-species flocks. While foraging, they walk steadily along with a high-stepping gait, bobbing their elevated heads looking for prey on the ground. They may run and stop, making quick directional changes like plovers do.

Listen to the sound of Buff-breasted Sandpiper

[audio:http://www.aviflevoland.nl/sounddb/B/Buff-breasted Sandpiper.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 41 cm wingspan max.: 43 cm
size min.: 20 cm size max.: 22 cm
incubation min.: 19 days incubation max.: 21 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 21 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


North America : North, also Northeast EU


Buff-breasted Sandpipers breed in dry Arctic tundra. Outside of the breeding season, they are seen in short-grass prairie and other grassland habitats. They winter in the grasslands of southern South America. In migration, they can be found on grassy areas such as golf courses, cemeteries, mowed lawns, and airfields. They are often seen in the baked mud around drying rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. They can also be seen along sandy beaches and open, weedy meadows.


Groups of males form leks, or display grounds in the tundra breeding areas. Leks are typically fairly dense, but these birds have large display territories, up to 8 acres in size, so the entire lek may spread across a large area. Typical Buff-breasted Sandpiper leks are made up of 10 or fewer males. Females come to the leks where the males display their light underwings, one wing at a time. They mate on the lek, and the female leaves. The male provides no parental care. The female finds a spot on the ground, often on a moss hummock near water. There, she scrapes out a shallow depression and lines it with leaves, sedge, moss, or lichen. She incubates four eggs for 23-25 days. The young leave the nest within a day of hatching. They feed themselves, but the female tends them. The young begin to fly at 16-20 days.

Feeding habits

Buff-breasted Sandpipers eat mostly insects.


This species underwent rapid historical declines. Its moderately small remaining population continues to decline and as a result it is considered Near-Threatened.
Buff-breasted Sandpiper status Near Threatened


A western Arctic breeding species, which migrates mainly through North American interior to winter quarters in southern South America (Paraguayan chaco and Argentine pampas). Small numbers diverge in Canada from main route and pass south down western side of Hudson Bay and across Great Lakes to New England states between Massachusetts and New Jersey, where occurs sparingly August-September. This minority passage believed to be origin of transatlantic vagrants.
British and Irish records heavily concentrated in western areas, with vast majority in autumn, which suggests less successful than some other Nearctic waders at overwintering in Old World. However, 4 African records all in winter: Egypt, February 1928; Tunisia, December 1963; Sierra Leone, November 1973; Kenya, December 1973.

Distribution map

Buff-breasted Sandpiper distribution range map

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