© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Kari Pihlaviita, M. & W. von Wright: Svenska fåglar (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Common Sandpiper

Actitis hypoleucos

  • Family: Sandpipers – Scolopacidae
  • Appearance: A small, short-legged, long-tailed wader with a characteristic hunched posture. Upper parts brown, breast densely streaked, belly and other underparts pure white. Single white wing stripes prominent on birds in flight.
  • Size: Length 18–20.5 cm, wingspan 32–35 cm, weight 41–56 g.
  • Nest: In a shallow depression among vegetation, usually well concealed. Lined with dry leaves, grass, pine or spruce needles etc.
  • Breeding: 4 eggs laid in May, incubated by both parents for 21–24 days. Fledglings leave the nest soon after hatching and quickly learn to find food for themselves. They learn to fly within about 3 weeks.
  • Occurrence: Nests near shores throughout Finland. Breeding population estimated at 150,000–200,000 pairs.
  • Migration: Nocturnal. Flies south July–August, returning April–May. May migrate singly or in small groups. Winters in southern Europe and Africa.
  • Diet: Invertebrates.
  • Calls: A variety of sharp and faint calls, notably a piercing “ti-vii-viit”.

The Common Sandpiper is the smallest member of its family found in Finland. Their upper parts are greyish brown and their underparts are bright white, except for their densely streaked breasts. Their white colouring extends up in a wedge-shaped marking between their forewings and their brown-streaked breasts. A distinctive single white wing bar is visible on birds in flight. They have longish tails, short greenish grey legs, dark brown beaks and brown irises.

Common Sandpipers flick their tails up and down like Wagtails, and often fly low over water with fluttering wingbeats.

Other species from the same family

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