Least Sandpipers

Least sandpiper.

Yesterday, we went to the Palencia Boardwalk to see the wildlife. This is a boardwalk in our community that is about 3/4 of a mile long over the salt marsh and some islands in the salt marsh. There are a variety of habitats, therefore a large variety of wildlife. Regis and I spent a lot of time crouched down and watching the sandpipers from the boardwalk. For this post, I want to talk about the least sandpiper.

The least sandpiper (Calidris minutilla – minutilla meaning “very small”) is one of our smallest sandpipers and is often seen on the muddy edges of rivers, ponds, and marshes. The salt marsh is where you would expect to find these little birds. They walk across the mud flats probing their bill into the soil looking for invertebrates to eat. They are about the size of a sparrow. They are one of the small “peeps” which are brownish small shorebirds. Least sandpipers are the darkest, brownest “peep.” Besides its small size, this bird can be distinguished by yellow or greenish legs. Although this is a distinguishing feature, their legs are often muddy and hard to tell the color. The bill is slightly downward curved. These birds breed in the wet tundra and open areas of the boreal forest in the northern parts of North America. They breed as far south as Nova Scotia and British Columbia in Canada. They spend their winters in the southern United States and northern half of South America.

Least sandpiper probing into the mud searching for invertebrates.
Least sandpiper searching for food in very shallow water.
Least sandpiper searching for food on the drier mud flat.
If you look closely, you can see a small worm in this least sandpipers bill.

While walking the boardwalk, we saw a large nest in one of the dead trees that was not there the last time we visited. Shortly, two bald eagles arrived on the nest. What a thrill to have a nesting pair of bald eagles so close. We look forward to watching this pair raise a family.

We saw about 25 cedar waxwings. These are our first waxwings of the season.

Cedar waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum).
The Palencia Boardwalk over the salt marsh on the edge of the intracoastal waterway in St. Augustine, Florida.

2 Comments on “Least Sandpipers

    • Thank you for the lovely comment. I also love those little birds. They are fun to watch.

      Like

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