Range/Geographical Distribution: Breeds on islands in the Arctic in Canada. Spends winters along the coasts of British Columbia south to much of South America. Also in Eurasia. One of the most widespread shorebirds.
Habitat: Coastal, sandy beaches.
Similar Species: Ruddy turnstone, willet, and dunlin.
Description: Starling-sized bird with a black bill and legs, white underbody, and a distinct white stripe on its wing seen in flight. Summer breeding adults have a brown and white pattern on their head, breast and back. Winter non-breeding adults’ pattern is replaced by a pale grey coloration.
Size: Length: 7-8” Wingspan: 14” Weight: 40-100g
Food: Aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates.
Breeding: Breeds on tundra. Lays four spotted olive eggs in a hollow lined with lichen and grasses.
Predators: Larger birds including gulls, falcons, merlins, and owls will eat adults, young, and eggs. Domestic cats and wolves will also eat sanderlings.
Conservation Status: Global population trend is unknown, but there is some evidence that American populations may be declining due to habitat degradation. Listed as least concern by the IUCN.
Interesting Facts: Sanderlings are predominantly monogamous, but occasionally the female will lay several successions of eggs for different males.
On the Coast: Sanderlings spend the winter months on the coast of Georgia and various other temperate beaches around the world. They can be seen running behind a receding wave pecking at the invertebrates that live in the wet sand.