Buff-breasted Sandpiper: Medium sandpiper, buff wash over entire body except for white vent. Upperparts are black-spotted and streaked, underparts are slightly scaled. Shows white wing linings in flight. Has white eye-ring and black bill. Legs are yellow. Swift direct flight with rapid wing beats.
Range and Habitat
Buff-breasted Sandpiper: Breeds in Alaska and western Canadian Arctic, migrating through the midwest and occurring rarely on the Atlantic or Pacific coasts. Preferred habitats include grasslands and prairies, plowed fields, turf farms, wet rice fields; nests on Arctic tundra.
During the late 1800s and early 1900s, this was an abundant shorebird, with population estimates ranging from hundreds of thousands to millions. By the 1920s widespread market hunting had decimated their numbers, resulting in near extinction.
The Buff-breasted Sandpiper is sometimes referred to as a "grasspiper," because of its preference for grassy areas over the coastal mudflats favored by most shorebirds.
They are the only species of North American shorebird that exhibits a lek mating system, in which males defend territories for the sole purpose of performing displays to attract females; females do not receive any resources from males, nor do males aid in parental care in any way.
A group of sandpipers has many collective nouns, including a "bind", "contradiction", "fling", "hill", and "time-step" of sandpipers.
The Buff-breasted Sandpiper has undergone dramatic declines within the past several years. The remaining populations that do exist are continuing to decline, leading to an evaluation of Near Threatened. The bird is native to Alaska, areas of Canada and portions of Russia. It is known to winter in South America. This species of bird became nearly extinct during the early 20th century as a result of hunting. Despite conservation efforts, the Buff-breasted Sandpiper has yet to fully recover and concern continues that this species may become extinct if the population continues to decline.