© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Mirjam Silven, M., W. & F. von Wright: Pohjolan linnut värikuvin. Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Purple Sandpiper

Calidris maritima

  • Family: Sandpipers – Scolopacidae
  • Appearance: A smallish sandpiper, slightly larger, stockier and shorter-legged than the Dunlin. Beak similar to Dunlin’s, legs yellowish-grey or brownish-yellow. In flight appears generally darker than Dunlin.
  • Size: Length 19–22 cm, wingspan 37–42 cm, weight 62–85 g.
  • Nest: On open rocky ground on the fells and tundra of northernmost Lapland, lined with dry willow leaves (Salix herbacea and S. polaris) and feathers from the parent birds.
  • Breeding: Lays 4 eggs in June. Both parents incubate, for 21–22 days. Young able to fly within 21 days. Fledglings leave nest soon after hatching and rapidly learn to find food independently.
  • Distribution: Breeds along coasts, in palsa mires and in mountainous tundra regions. Finnish breeding population estimated at 5–30 pairs.
  • Migration: Mainly nocturnal. Flies south from July to December, returning in May. Winters around the Baltic and the North Sea, with some birds wintering annually on the outermost islands in Finnish waters.
  • Diet: Invertebrates.
  • Calls: A sharp “kruit” and a lower “vit” similar to call of Little Stint.
  • Endangerment: Endangered, protected in Finland. Globally Least concern.

Purple Sandpipers are slightly larger and stockier than the related Dunlin. In their winter plumage (birds wintering on islands in Finnish waters) they have a dark grey appearance with short legs and a slightly curved bill. Their heads and chests are dark grey and their flanks are speckled. In flight they can be distinguished by their narrow white wing stripes and dark tails with white edges (tail pattern similar to Dunlin). Juveniles’ plumage resembles winter plumage, but the edges to feathers on their wings, backs and chests are yellowish, and their underparts have an orange tinge. Purple Sandpipers’ legs are greyish-yellow (summer) or orangish-yellow (winter), their irises are brown, and their beaks are blackish with colouring on the base varying from yellow to orange.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

Follow us!

Identify species!

Sivun alkuun / Top of the page