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Species Guide
A photo of a Terek Sandpiper (Xenus cinereus)
Terek Sandpiper

Terek Sandpiper

Xenus cinereus

The Terek Sandpiper, Xenus cinereus, is a small, migratory wader of the Palearctic region and the sole representative of its genus. It is named for the Terek River by the Caspian Sea, where it was first observed. This bird is slightly larger than the common sandpiper, measuring 22–25 cm in length. Its most striking feature is the long, upcurved bill, reminiscent of an avocet's but less pronounced. The plumage is predominantly grey, with a possible white supercilium, a whitish belly, and yellow feet. The bill is yellowish at the base, transitioning to black towards the tip.

Identification Tips

When identifying the Terek Sandpiper, look for its long, upcurved bill and grey back, face, and breast. The white supercilium may stand out, and the bird's yellow feet can be a helpful distinguishing feature. The bill's yellowish base is another characteristic to note.


The Terek Sandpiper breeds near water within the taiga biome, from Finland across northern Siberia to the Kolyma River.


This species migrates southward in winter to tropical coasts in East Africa, South Asia, and Australia, favoring muddy areas. It is a rare vagrant in Western Europe and occasionally seen in the Marianas during migration. Stray individuals have been recorded as far as Alaska, the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands, and even in the Neotropics, with sightings as far south as Argentina.


The Terek Sandpiper is known for its active feeding behavior, chasing after insects and other mobile prey. It may run to the water's edge to wash its catch. It lays three or four eggs in a ground scrape lined with natural materials.

Song & Calls

The Terek Sandpiper's call is a distinctive high whistle, which can be heard during its breeding season and migration.


Pairs of Terek Sandpipers breed at the mouth of the Terek River and in similar habitats across the taiga. They lay three or four eggs in a lined ground scrape.

Similar Species

While its long, upcurved bill is unique, the Terek Sandpiper could potentially be confused with smaller calidrids or Charadrius plovers at a distance.

Diet and Feeding

The Terek Sandpiper actively chases and captures insects and other mobile prey, sometimes washing its catch at the water's edge.

Conservation status

The Terek Sandpiper is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN. It is widespread and often quite commonly seen, and there are no immediate threats to its population. The species is protected under the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA).

Terek Sandpiper Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Terek Sandpipers on Birda


More Sandpipers, Snipes

A photo of a Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)

Common Sandpiper

Actitis hypoleucos
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