Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
Zeiss - Always on the lookout for something special – Shop now

Welcome to BirdForum.
BirdForum is the net's largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE! You are most welcome to register for an account, which allows you to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Personal tools
Main Categories


From Opus

C. a. alpina summer adult. Bright; short-billed.Photo by SteinnSvalbard, Norway, August 2012
C. a. alpina summer adult. Bright; short-billed.
Photo by Steinn
Svalbard, Norway, August 2012
Calidris alpina


[edit] Identification

Length 17–21 cm (6ΒΎ-8ΒΌ in), wingspan 32–36 cm, weight 33–85 g
Black bill, with de-curved tip; black legs.

Adult winterPhoto by Andy HallTexel, Netherlands, October 2016
Adult winter
Photo by Andy Hall
Texel, Netherlands, October 2016


  • Crown and upperparts rufous, streaked darker
  • Wings: greyish brown, with pale bar and dark tips
  • White sides to rump and tail
  • White breast with darker streaks
  • Black belly
  • White undertail coverts


  • Rufous areas become grey and belly all white


  • Similar to summer adult above but fringes less rufous; underparts pale buff breast grading to white belly with blackish streaks on breast and flanks

[edit] Distribution

Breeding birds from northern Europe and Asia winter in western and southern Europe, Africa, and southern Asia. Those that breed in Alaska and the Canadian Arctic move down to the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America.

[edit] Taxonomy

JuvenilePhoto by CJWSmeale, Isle of Man, July 2004
Photo by CJW
Smeale, Isle of Man, July 2004

Most closely related to the Purple Sandpiper β€” Rock Sandpiper species pair, and after them, to Sanderling[1].

[edit] Subspecies

Depending on authority, nine[2] or ten[3] subspecies are accepted:

  • C. a. arctica:
  • C. a. schinzii:
  • C. a. alpina:
  • C. a. centralis:
  • North central to northeastern Russia; winters India (included in C. a. alpina by some authorities[2])
  • C. a. sakhalina:
  • C. a. kistchinskii:
  • Sea of Okhotsk to Kuril Islands; wintering grounds unknown
  • C. a. actites:
  • Northern Sakhalin; wintering grounds unknown
  • C. a. arcticola:
  • C. a. pacifica:
  • C. a. hudsonia:

The subspecies are distinguishable by bill length, and intensity of colour of the summer plumage. Winter and juvenile plumage birds are often not reliably distinguishable to subspecies, with only bill length differing.

[edit] Habitat

Juvenile in flightPhoto by maliElmley Marshes, Kent, September 2016
Juvenile in flight
Photo by mali
Elmley Marshes, Kent, September 2016

Breeds on low or high ground, in wet short-grass or tundra habitats; on migration (in autumn, adults in late July-August, juveniles in late August-October), found in a variety of marshy or coastal habitats, but most numerous on tidal flats or on banks of seaweed on shallow shores.

Coastal mudflats and beaches.

[edit] Behaviour

They form huge winter flocks, mainly on tidal mudflats (less often in freshwater), often mixing with Ringed Plover, Red Knot, and other Calidris species.

[edit] Diet

The diet includes insects, snails and worms.

[edit] Breeding

They nest in a shallow scrape on the ground lined with vegetation. The 4 eggs are incubated by both adults. The male cares for the young.

[edit] Vocalisation

Song: a trill.
Flight Call: treep or chreet

Listen in an external program

[edit] References

  1. Gibson, R., & Baker, A. (2012). Multiple gene sequences resolve phylogenetic relationships in the shorebird suborder Scolopaci (Aves: Charadriiformes). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 64: 66-72.
  2. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from
  3. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2017. IOC World Bird Names (version 7.1). Available at
  4. Avibase
  5. Wikipedia
  6. Collins Pocket Guide to British Birds 1966
  7. Collins Bird Guide ISBN 0 00 219728 6

[edit] External Links


Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

Help support BirdForum

Page generated in 0.34841490 seconds with 8 queries
All times are GMT. The time now is 08:28.