sandpiper


sandpiper
/sand"puy'per/, n.
any of numerous shore-inhabiting birds of the family Scolopacidae, related to the plovers, typically having a slender bill and a piping call.
[1665-75; SAND + PIPER]

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Any of numerous shorebirds (family Scolopacidae) found either breeding or wintering nearly worldwide.

Sandpipers, 6–12 in. (15–30 cm) long, have a moderately long bill and legs, long, narrow wings, and a fairly short tail. Their plumage has a complicated "dead-grass" pattern of browns, buffs, and blacks above, white or cream below. They run along ocean and inland beaches and mudflats, picking up insects, crustaceans, and worms and uttering thin, piping cries. Many species migrate in great flocks, from the Arctic to South America and New Zealand.

White-rumped sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis)

Helen Cruickshank from The National Audubon Society Collection/Photo Researchers

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bird
      any of numerous shorebirds belonging to the family Scolopacidae (order Charadriiformes), which also includes the woodcocks and the snipes. The name sandpiper refers particularly to several species of small to middle-sized birds, about 15 to 30 cm (6 to 12 inches) long, that throng sea beaches and inland mud flats during migration.

      Sandpipers have moderately long bills and legs, long, narrow wings, and fairly short tails. Their colouring often consists of a complicated “dead-grass” pattern of browns, buffs, and blacks on the upperparts, with white or cream colouring below. They are frequently paler in autumn than in spring. Some species have distinguishing features, such as speckled breasts, white rump bands, or contrasting throat patches, but their general appearance is similar and they are notoriously difficult to identify. Most puzzling are the smallest sandpipers, known as peep, stint, or oxeyes. Most of these, formerly divided among the genera Erolia, Ereunetes, and Crocethia, are now placed in the broad genus Calidris.

      Sandpipers feed on the beaches and mud flats of ocean coastlines and inland waters, running along near the water and picking up their food of insects, crustaceans, and worms. They utter thin, piping cries while in flight or while running along the sand. Sandpipers usually nest on the ground in the open, in a scantily lined little hollow. They lay four spotted eggs, from which hatch active, downy young. Many sandpipers nest in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions and pass through the North Temperate Zone in great flocks on the way to their breeding sites.

      The common sandpiper (Actitis, or sometimes Tringa, hypoleucos) is an abundant breeder on grassy shores of lakes and rivers throughout Eurasia, and it winters from Africa to Australia and Polynesia. This species is notable for a nervous mannerism of wagging its tail. The closely related spotted sandpiper (A. macularia) is the best-known New World sandpiper; this species breeds beside streams and ponds of sub-Arctic and temperate North America and winters as far south as Argentina.

      The solitary sandpiper (Tringa solitaria), which breeds in North America and winters in South America, is unusual in nesting not on the ground but in the old tree nests of other birds. The closely related green sandpiper (T. ochropus) is its slightly larger counterpart in boreal and mountainous regions of Eurasia.

 The genus Calidris contains many birds known as sandpipers, along with others such as the knot and the sanderling (qq.v.) and the dunlin (q.v.)—which is sometimes called the red-backed sandpiper. The least sandpiper (C. minutilla), less than 15 cm in length, is the smallest sandpiper. Sometimes called the American stint, it is abundant in Alaska and across sub-Arctic Canada to Nova Scotia. It winters on coasts from Oregon and North Carolina to South America. The purple sandpiper (C. maritima) breeds in foggy Arctic highlands, chiefly in eastern North America and northern Europe, and winters as far north as Greenland and Great Britain. It is grayish with yellow legs and bill and is easily approached in the field. Another Old World species is the rufous-necked sandpiper (C. ruficollis), which breeds in Siberia and winters as far south as New Zealand and Tasmania. The white-rumped sandpiper (C. fuscicollis; see photograph—>), which breeds in Arctic North America and winters in southern South America, is rust-coloured in breeding season but gray otherwise. The upland sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda), also called Bartram's sandpiper and, mistakenly, the upland plover, is an American bird of open fields. It is a slender, gray-streaked bird almost 30 cm long that feeds on grasshoppers and other insects.
 

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Sandpiper — Sand pi per, n. 1. (Zo[ o]l.) Any one of numerous species of small limicoline game birds belonging to {Tringa}, {Actodromas}, {Ereunetes}, and various allied genera of the family {Tringid[ae]}. [1913 Webster] Note: The most important North… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sandpiper — [sand′pī΄pər] n. pl. sandpipers or sandpiper any of a number of small shorebirds (family Scolopacidae) similar to the snipes but distinguished by a shorter, soft tipped bill, including the common sandpiper ( Tringa hypoleucos) of Europe and the… …   English World dictionary

  • sandpiper — ► NOUN ▪ a wading bird with a long bill and long legs, frequenting coastal areas …   English terms dictionary

  • sandpiper — UK [ˈsæn(d)ˌpaɪpə(r)] / US [ˈsæn(d)ˌpaɪpər] noun [countable] Word forms sandpiper : singular sandpiper plural sandpipers a small bird that lives in the northern part of the world, usually by the sea, and has long legs and a long thin beak …   English dictionary

  • sandpiper — Pride Pride, n. [Cf. AS. lamprede, LL. lampreda, E. lamprey.] (Zo[ o]l.) A small European lamprey ({Petromyzon branchialis}); called also {prid}, and {sandpiper}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sandpiper — noun Date: 1674 any of various small shorebirds (family Scolopacidae, the sandpiper family) distinguished from the related plovers chiefly by the longer and soft tipped bill …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • sandpiper — /ˈsændpaɪpə / (say sandpuypuh) noun any of a number of shorebirds of the family Scolopacidae that breed in the Northern Hemisphere and are seen in Australia as non breeding migrants, as the sharp tailed sandpiper, Calidris acuminata, common in… …   Australian English dictionary

  • sandpiper — noun /ˈsænd.paɪpɜ/lang=en Any of various small wading birds of the family Scolopacidae …   Wiktionary

  • sandpiper — sand|pip|er [ˈsændˌpaıpə US ər] n a small bird with long legs and a long beak that lives near the shore …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • sandpiper — sand|pi|per [ sænd,paıpər ] noun count a small bird that lives in the northern part of the world, usually by the sea, and has long legs and a long thin beak …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English