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A photo of a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Calidris acuminata)
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper

Calidris acuminata

The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Calidris acuminata, presents as a small to medium-sized wader with a distinctive pot-bellied appearance. Its upper body is adorned with mottled chestnut-brown plumage, featuring sharply defined feathers with dark centers. A chestnut cap graces its head, complemented by a brown stripe through each eye. The bill is a dark grey to black and notably straight, while the legs exhibit an olive to yellow hue. The underparts are predominantly white or lighter in shade, with mottling that echoes the patterns on the breast and belly sides.

Identification Tips

During the breeding season, the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper's plumage intensifies, with the chestnut tones becoming more vivid and the chevron-shaped markings on the breast more pronounced. Juveniles can be distinguished by their brighter winter plumage, sharper feathers, and more pronounced chestnut crowns, which contrast starkly against the white mantle stripes and buffy chests.

Habitat

The breeding habitat in Siberia consists of tundra characterized by peat-hummock and lichen. During migration, these birds favor muddy edges of shallow freshwater or brackish wetlands with grass, emergent or inundated sedges, saltmarsh, or other low vegetation.

Distribution

Sharp-tailed Sandpipers are exclusive breeders in eastern Siberia and winter predominantly in Australasia. Their migration routes are complex, with some birds traveling via the Pacific coast of Russia and others via Alaska, eventually converging in Australia and New Zealand.

Breeding

Breeding occurs from June to August in Siberia, where nests are shallow, lined hollows concealed on the ground. Clutch size typically consists of four eggs, with the female taking on the incubation and chick-rearing responsibilities.

Similar Species

The Pectoral Sandpiper is a similar species, but the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper can be differentiated by its breast pattern, stronger supercilium, and more chestnut-colored crown. The Long-toed stint is also similar but is much smaller than the Sharp-tailed Sanpiper.

Diet and Feeding

Sharp-tailed Sandpipers forage at the edges of wetlands and intertidal mudflats, consuming a diet mainly composed of aquatic insects, molluscs, crustaceans, worms, and occasionally seeds and other invertebrates.

Conservation Status

As of 2021, the IUCN lists the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper as Vulnerable, with an estimated population of 60,000 to 120,000 mature individuals. Habitat loss and degradation, human disturbance, and increased mortality from various threats are the primary concerns for this species' conservation.

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Sounds

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