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Species Guide
A photo of a Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Common Sandpiper

Common Sandpiper

Actitis hypoleucos

The Common Sandpiper, Actitis hypoleucos, is a small wader of the Palearctic region, easily recognized by its greyish-brown upperparts and pristine white underparts. Adults typically measure between 18-20 cm in length, with a wingspan of 32-35 cm. They possess short, dark-yellowish legs and feet, and a bill that is pale at the base with a dark tip.

Identification Tips

In the field, look for the Common Sandpiper's distinctive stiff-winged flight pattern, just above the water's surface. During the non-breeding season, they appear duller and exhibit more noticeable barring on the wings, which is most visible at close range. Juveniles display heavier barring above and buff edges to their wing feathers. The species can be differentiated from the similar Spotted Sandpiper by its darker legs and feet and the crisper wing pattern, especially in flight.


These birds are often found near freshwater sources, where they nest on the ground in close proximity to the water's edge.


The Common Sandpiper breeds across much of temperate and subtropical Europe and Asia. It is a migratory bird, wintering in Africa, southern Asia, and Australia. During migration, large numbers may congregate in stop-over locations such as Palau in Micronesia.


Common Sandpipers are typically solitary or found in small groups. They may form larger flocks during migration or at breeding season roosts but seldom join multispecies flocks.


When breeding, these birds nest on the ground near freshwater. A notable behavior is the young's ability to cling to a parent's body, being flown to safety when threatened.

Similar Species

The Spotted Sandpiper (A. macularia) is the most similar species, especially in non-breeding plumage. However, the Common Sandpiper's darker legs and more defined wing pattern in flight help distinguish it.

Diet and Feeding

The Common Sandpiper forages by sight, picking up small food items such as insects, crustaceans, and other invertebrates from the ground or shallow water. It is also known to catch insects in flight.

Conservation status

The species is widespread and common, thus classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. However, it is considered vulnerable in some Australian states. The Common Sandpiper is protected under the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA).

Common Sandpiper Sounds

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Common Sandpiper Fun Facts

Did you know?
Common Sandpipers bob up and down for unknown reasons, this is called teetering.

Common Sandpipers on Birda


More Sandpipers, Snipes

A photo of a Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)

Spotted Sandpiper

Actitis macularius
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