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

Semipalmated Sandpiper, Calidris pusilla

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.

Semipalmated Sandpiper, Calidris pusilla

The semipalmated sandpiper is a very small shorebird.

Adults have black legs and a short, stout, straight dark bill. The body is dark grey-brown on top and white underneath. The head and neck are tinged light grey-brown. This bird can be difficult to distinguish from other similar tiny shorebirds, in particular the western sandpiper, these are known collectively as “peeps” or “stints”.

Their breeding habitat is the southern tundra in Canada and Alaska near water. They nest on the ground. The male makes several shallow scrapes; the female chooses one and adds grass and other material to line the nest. The female lays 4 eggs, the male assists in incubation. After a few days, the female leaves the young with the male, the young feed themselves.

These birds forage on mudflats, picking up food by sight and feel (bill). They mainly eat aquatic insects and crustaceans.

They are long distance migrants and winter in coastal South America, with some going to the southern United States. They migrate in flocks which can number in the hundreds of thousands, particularly in favoured feeding locations such as the Bay of Fundy and Delaware Bay.

On to my photos:

Semipalmated sandpiper

Semipalmated sandpiper

Semipalmated sandpiper

Semipalmated sandpiper

Semipalmated sandpiper

Semipalmated sandpiper

Semipalmated sandpiper

Semipalmated sandpiper

Semipalmated sandpiper

Semipalmated sandpiper

Semipalmated sandpipers

Semipalmated sandpipers

Semipalmated sandpipers

Semipalmated sandpipers

Semipalmated sandpiper

Semipalmated sandpiper

This is number 167 in my photo life list, only 183 to go!

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

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17 responses

  1. What splendid pictures you took of that fancily named sandpiper.

    August 23, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    • Thank you Susan! They are named for their slightly webbed feet, but I wasn’t able to get close enough to show that in any of the photos.

      August 23, 2014 at 9:19 pm

  2. Nice shots! That’s some really strange looking mud in some of those photos.

    August 23, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    • Thanks Allen! The ‘mud” is really a blanket of algae due to all the nutrients in the water and as warm as it’s been.

      August 23, 2014 at 9:20 pm

  3. I stopped at a birdwatching centre in Rutland the other day. Found myself watching sandpipers. Two hours passed without sound or worry.

    August 23, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    • That is some nasty-looking green slime you found, with some gorgeous birds playing around. Wonderful shots!

      On Sat, Aug 23, 2014 at 4:24 PM, Quiet Solo Pursuits wrote:

      > simon682 commented: “I stopped at a birdwatching centre in Rutland the > other day. Found myself watching sandpipers. Two hours passed without sound > or worry.”

      August 23, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    • Thanks Simon! They are fun to watch, especially in a flock.

      August 23, 2014 at 9:21 pm

  4. I like sandpipers because they are small! This one has bright feathers. I love the fifth photo showing the wing and back feathers.

    August 23, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    • Thanks Clare! I tried to get them from every angle for identification purposes.

      August 23, 2014 at 9:22 pm

  5. Absolutely beautiful pictures!

    August 23, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    • Thank you Michael!

      August 23, 2014 at 9:22 pm

  6. great shots as always……. elegant little bird

    August 23, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    • Thank you very much!

      August 23, 2014 at 9:23 pm

  7. These are excellent photos! The Beast or other?

    August 24, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    • Thanks! Most were with the Beast, one or two may have been shot with the 300 mm prime.

      August 24, 2014 at 1:59 pm

      • You’re welcome. The photos with the water ripples have an especially pleasing clarity. Lovely.

        August 24, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      • That’s funny, I was using a polarizing filter on the prime lens to kill reflections and lessen the ripples to get better lighting on the birds. So the shot(s) with the ripples must have been with the Beast.

        August 25, 2014 at 1:33 am