Rock Sandpiper (Calidris ptilocnemis)

Rock Sandpiper

[order] CHARADRIIFORMES | [family] Scolopacidae | [latin] Calidris ptilocnemis | [UK] Rock Sandpiper | [FR] Becasseau aleoute | [DE] Bering-Strandlaufer | [ES] Correlimos Roquero | [NL] Beringstrandloper


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Calidris ptilocnemis EU, NA w NA coast
Calidris ptilocnemis couesi Aleutian Is., Alaskan Pen.
Calidris ptilocnemis ptilocnemis Pribilof, Hall and St. Mathew Is. Alaskan Pen.
Calidris ptilocnemis quarta s Kamchatka Pen., Kuril and Commander Is.
Calidris ptilocnemis tschuktschorum Chukosk Pen. (e Siberia) to w Alaska nw North America, e Japan

Physical charateristics

In breeding plumage suggests a Dunlin, with rusty back, black splotch on breast (but the Dunlin is redder, with black splotch lower down, black legs). In winter, similar to the Purple Sandpiper of the Atlantic, but paler. Stocky and slaty, with a white be
lly, white wing stripe. Legs dull yellow or greenish.

Listen to the sound of Rock Sandpiper

[audio: Sandpiper.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 38 cm wingspan max.: 41 cm
size min.: 20 cm size max.: 24 cm
incubation min.: 20 days incubation max.: 21 days
fledging min.: 18 days fledging max.: 21 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


Eurasia, North America :


Rocky shores; nests on mossy tundra. In winter t
ypically on rocky shores or rock jetties, foraging mostly in zone below high-tide mark, especially on mats of algae or among mussels or barnacles. Breeds on tundra, generally on drier and more barren stretches with sparse cover of lichen, moss, grasse


Male defends territory by flying in wide circle with fluttering wingbeats, giving trilled calls. In aggressive display on ground, male raises one wing.
Nest: Site is on ground on open dry tundra, often on a raised area of lichen or moss. Nest is a deep scrape, usually lined with lichens, leaves, grass. Male begins scrape, female may add some lining.
Usually 4. Olive to buff, blotched with brown. Incubation is usually by both sexes, about 20 days. Occasionally only one parent (either one) incubates. If predators threaten nest, adult may perform distraction display, fluttering away as if wing is broke
Young: May leave the nest within a few hours after hatching. Usually tended by male, rarely by female or by both parents. Young find all their own food. Age at first flight not well known, probably about 3 weeks.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects and other invertebrates.
Insects may be main part of diet on breeding grounds, but also eats crustaceans, mollusks, marine worms. Unlike most sandpipers, also eats some plant material, including berries, seeds, moss, and algae.
On migration and in winter, diet is mostly small mollusks, crustaceans, and insects.
Behavior: Forages by moving about slowly on rocks, or walking on mudflats or tundra. Finds its food visually.


This species has a very 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). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very 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.
Rock Sandpiper status Least Concern


Northeastern Siberia, western Alaska; winters along coast to California. Migration:
Those nesting on Pribilofs and Aleutians are apparently short-distance migrants or permanent residents. Mainland breeders go farther south. Some of those wintering on our west coast south of Alaska probably come from Siberia.

Distribution map

Rock Sandpiper distribution range map

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