Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea)

Curlew Sandpiper

[order] CHARADRIIFORMES | [family] Scolopacidae | [latin] Calidris ferruginea | [UK] Curlew Sandpiper | [FR] Becasseau cocorli | [DE] Sichel-Strandlaufer | [ES] Correlimos Zarapitin | [NL] Krombekstrandloper


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

Medium size calidris with longish neck and legs and long, decurved bill. Head, neck and all underparts rusty rufous to deep chestnut-red, with dark streaks on crown. Mantle and scapulars dark brown with chestnut and whitish fringes. Wing coverts greyer.
Female normally has longer bill. somewhat paler, with greater tendency to have white barring on underparts. Non-breeding adult plain grey above, white below. contrasting white supercilium. Sides of breast washed grey.

Listen to the sound of Curlew Sandpiper

[audio: Sandpiper.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 40 cm wingspan max.: 42 cm
size min.: 19 cm size max.: 22 cm
incubation min.: 20 days incubation max.: 22 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 22 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


Eurasia : North


Lowlands of Arctic, along coast and on islands in Arctic Ocean, on open tundra with marshy depressions and pools.
In winter, chiefly on coast, on muddy or sandy surface of tidal flats, coastal lagoons, estuaries and salt marshes. Frequently inland, at muddy edges of large rivers, lakes, marshes, salt-pans and flooded areas.


Egg laying in June-July. Nestis built on margins of marshes and pools, on slopes of hummocky tundra or dry patches in polygonum tundra. 3-8 eggs are laid, incubation 20 days, by female only. Breeding success highly dependent on lemming abundance, with considerable predation by Arctic foxes during low lemmings years, which occur once every 4 years.

Feeding habits

Outside breeding season, mainly polychaete worms, molluscs, crustaceans, and sometimes insects. Picks prey from mud or sand surface or probes in mud regularly wading in shallow water.
Gregarious outside breeding season, in flocks of up to several thousand. Diurnal and nocurnal.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Curlew Sandpiper status Least Concern


Migratory. In W Palearctic three major routes: to White Sea, down W European coasts to W Africa; across E Europe via Black Sea and Tunisia to W Africa, following N African coast or flying via Mali; and via Black and Caspian Seas and across Middle East and Rift Valley lakes to E & S Africa. Route through W Europe little used during N migration; instead many fly via Tunisia and Sivash (N Crimea); birds passing S through Sivash winter in E, C & S Africa and probably migrate N via Caspian Sea. Other routes are across Siberia to India, where some continue through SE Asia to Australia, but many winter in S India and Sri Lanka; also overland to E Asia and via Chinese coast to Australia, a route used more on N migration. Migrates long distances non-stop. Males show high degree of site faithfulness. During autumn migration adults precede juveniles and adult males depart early Jul, 3-4 weeks before females; more males than females migrate farther S. On S migration, crosses Europe in Jul, reaching Africa from mid-Jul in N and mainly Sept in S; arrives Australia late Aug to early Sept; juveniles follow 4-6 weeks later. N migration late Apr to May; arrives on breeding grounds from early Jun. Many 1 st-year birds remain on wintering grounds while other non-breeding birds apparently remain just S of breeding grounds, in C Siberia.

Distribution map

Curlew Sandpiper distribution range map

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