My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Upland Sandpiper, Bartramia longicauda

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Upland Sandpiper, Bartramia longicauda

The Upland Sandpiper is a large sandpiper, closely related to the curlews. Older names are the Upland Plover and Bartram’s Sandpiper. It is the only member of the genus Bartramia. The genus name and the old common name Bartram’s Sandpiper commemorate the American naturalist William Bartram. The name “Bartram’s Sandpiper” was made popular by Alexander Wilson, who was taught ornithology and natural history illustration by Bartram.

An adult is roughly 12″ long with a 26″ wingspan. The average weight is 6 oz. This odd bird has a small dove-like head on a long neck. It is heavily marbled black and brown on the back and wings. The neck is streaked with dark brown which continues down to the breast and on to the flanks. The belly and under tail coverts are white. The tail is quite long for a sandpiper. The Upland also sports a white eye ring and long yellow legs.

They breed from eastern Alaska south-east of the Rocky Mountains through Montana to northern Oklahoma and then northeast to Pennsylvania, New England and extreme southern Quebec and Ontario. There are also local breeding populations in northeast Oregon and west-central Idaho. They winter in northeastern Argentina, Uruguay, and southern Brazil.

Even though they are sandpipers, they do not need the water. They prefer open country with tall grasses. They are also found at airports, blueberry farms and abandoned strip mines in the east. Their true core range and habitat is in the northern midwest United States.

Upland Sandpipers forage in fields, picking up food by sight. They are frequently sighted on fence posts and even telephone poles. When an “Uppy” alights, it holds its wings up for a few seconds. They are constantly scanning the horizon for intruders. The Upland Sandpiper’s diet includes grasshoppers, crickets, weevils, beetles, moths, ants, flies, bugs, centipedes, millipedes, spiders, snails and earthworms. It also eats some grains and seeds.

Upland Sandpipers can sometimes be found in small, loose nesting colonies. The breeding season is from early-to-late summer; nests are located on the ground in dense grass. The female lays 4 eggs. Both parents look after the young and may perform distraction displays to lure predators away from the nest or young birds.

Upland Sandpipers can be identified by a distinctive call, sometimes called a “wolf whistle”, which features a long, ascending whistle followed by a second rising and/or falling call. These sounds are often made while the bird is landing or while flying high.

On to my photos:

Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

Upland Sandpiper

This is number 111 in my photo life list, only 239 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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8 responses

  1. He’s (she’s?) adorable! I usually see them on the ground so it’s great to see them on a perch like this. Thx for sharing!

    July 9, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    • Thank you Lori! These were perched, watching over their young. I tried for shots of them, but they are fast!

      July 9, 2013 at 1:46 pm

  2. Great shots. You’re getting close to halfway through your life list. You’ll have to celebrate once you get to 120! 😀

    July 9, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    • Thanks. I have enough photos of species saved to make 120, which is about a third of my way through the list I’m working from. I agree, I think that making it that far as quickly as I have does call for a celebration!

      July 10, 2013 at 2:18 am

  3. OMG ! How cute is he!

    July 18, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    • Thanks, they are cute, also surprising. I expect to see sandpipers running around on shore, not perched on posts and telephone poles. I missed the juveniles, they are even cuter, but they were in the tall grass and wouldn’t pose the way their parents did.

      July 19, 2013 at 2:08 am

  4. Love your photos of all the critters and bugs! Oh dig the flowers too!~ Keep the great love of what you do going! You really have an eye for things!

    July 23, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    • Thank you for the nice comment! Hopefully, there will be a lot more to come.

      July 24, 2013 at 1:32 am