The Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla) is the smallest shorebird. The genus name is from Ancient Greek kalidris or skalidris, a term used by Aristotle for some grey-coloured waterside birds. The specific minutilla is Medieval Latin for “very small.” [Wikipedia]
This small sandpiper has brown-scaled upperparts and a rust-brown crown. The breast and throat are dark-spotted; belly, under tail are white. The wings have thin white stripes visible in flight. The black line on the rump extends onto the tail. The legs and feet are yellow-green. [iBird]
This bird can be difficult to distinguish from other similar tiny shorebirds; these are known collectively as “peeps” or “stints.” In particular, least sandpiper is very similar to its Asian counterpart, Long-toed Stint. It differs from that species in its more compact, shorter-necked appearance, shorter toes, somewhat duller colors, and stronger wing-bar. [Wikipedia]
Least Sandpipers are the smallest of the small sandpipers known as “peeps”—not much bigger than a sparrow. They have distinctive yellow-green legs and a high-pitched creep call. Look for them on edges of mudflats or marshes, where they walk with a hunched posture and probe for little crustaceans, insects, and other invertebrates. This common but declining shorebird migrates thousands of miles between its Arctic breeding grounds and wintering grounds as far south as Chile and Brazil. [All About Birds]
Least Sandpiper Facts [All About Birds]
- The Least Sandpiper is the smallest shorebird in the world, weighing in at about 1 ounce and measuring 5-6 inches long. Males are slightly smaller than females.
- Eastern populations probably fly nonstop over the ocean from the Gulf of St. Lawrence and New England to wintering grounds in northeastern South America, a distance of about 1,800 to 2,500 miles.
- Researchers studying Least Sandpipers discovered a new feeding mechanism. While probing damp mud with their bills, the sandpipers use the surface tension of the water to transport prey quickly from their bill tips to their mouths.
- The oldest Least Sandpiper on record was a female, and at least 15 years old when she was recaptured and released by a Nova Scotia researcher in 1985.