© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki. Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.


Calidris alba

  • Family: Sandpipers – Scolopacidae
  • Appearance: Small waders, slightly stockier than the similar-sized Dunlin. Distinctive white wing-stripes highlighted by darker edging. Beak black and fairly sturdy. Winter plumage very pale.
  • Size: Length 18–21 cm, wingspan 35–39 cm, weight 50–60 g.
  • Nest: In a shallow depression on sandy or gravelly ground, made of leaves and lichen.
  • Breeding: 4 eggs laid in June, incubated by both parents for 24–32 days. Fledglings leave nest soon after hatching, soon learn to find food for themselves, and learn to fly within about 17 days.
  • Distribution: Breeds in the Siberian tundra, in Europe only in Svalbard. Seen only as a passage migrant in Finland, rarely in spring, but more commonly in autumn.
  • Migration: Mainly nocturnal. Autumn migration between July and October, spring migration May–June. Winters along the western coasts of Africa and Europe, also around the North Sea.
  • Diet: Invertebrates. Feeds on shores close to the waterline, closely following breaking waves.
  • Calls: A piercing “bit”.

In their summer plumage, Sanderlings’ heads, necks and breasts are reddish brown with black speckles. There is a clear boundary between their breasts and their white bellies. Their backs have complex grey, black and yellowish brown patterning. Juvenile Sanderlings’ caps, shoulders and upper backs are blackish brown with white speckles, but the rear parts of their backs are greyish brown. Their underparts are white with some brownish speckles along their flanks. Sanderlings’ wing feathers are dark, with a distinctive white stripe on each wing that is clearly visible on birds in flight. They have black beaks, black wings and brown irises.

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

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