Among the wide variety of sandpipers, the sanderling is a small sandpiper bird. They have gray and white-colored feathers that give them a very basic look. These birds partake in long-distance migration during the breeding season to Africa, South Europe, Australia, and South America. These small aquatic birds also like to run along the sea waves on the beach and probe in the soft sand to find small invertebrates to eat. They also prey on horseshoe crab eggs. These aquatic birds land on High Arctic breeding grounds for their breeding season and lay three or four eggs each onto a small nest. This tiny nest serves as a habitat for their offspring for some time. During this time, these birds prey on insects and plants.
While these shorebirds prey on aquatic organisms, they are preyed on by the likes of Arctic foxes, peregrine falcons, snowy owls, merlins, laughing gulls, Sechuran foxes, burrowing owls, and domestic cats. These predators not only eat up the eggs of these white and grey-colored small sandpipers but also eat full-grown adults too.
Many people have doubts whether a sanderling is a sandpiper or not. To clarify that doubt, a sanderling is indeed a plump, medium-sized sandpiper. These birds are great runners and they love running on the beach, one of their favorite habitats.
Below, you can read all about this white and gray-colored bird. You can read about its habitats, how males behave, how many eggs a female lays, their breeding season, their habitats, migration distance, how they take flight, whether they're aquatic or not, their calls, the difference between males and females, and more. If you enjoy this article, you must check out our other articles on the secretary bird and the house finch too.
What do they prey on?
Horseshoe crabs, clams, roots, and berries
What do they eat?
Average litter size?
How much do they weigh?
1.4 oz-3.5 oz (40 g-100 g)
How long are they?
7.1 in-7.9 in (18 cm-20 cm)
How tall are they?
What do they look like?
What are their main threats?
Ocean pollution and food competition
What is their conservation status?
Where you'll find them
Grasslands and wetlands
North America, Asia, Africa, and Europe
Sanderling Interesting Facts
What type of animal is a sanderling?
The sanderling (Calidris alba) is a cute little bird. Among the wide variety of sandpipers, the sanderlings breed is a small bird that takes part in a long migration flight for breeding. This bird loves to walk along sea waves.
What class of animal does a sanderling belong to?
A sanderling belongs to the Aves class. These birds love to take flight along washing sea waves.
How many sanderlings are there in the world?
The sanderling's population around the globe is estimated to be between 620,000 - 700,000 sanderlings. They have a vast range as they are natives to America, Asia, Europe, and Africa.
Where does a sanderling live?
Sanderlings live in wetlands, grasslands, or marine ecosystems. These birds are known to spend their winters on the beaches of British Columbia, Mexico, the Pacific Coast, southern South America, and Massachusetts.
What is a sanderling's habitat?
Sanderling habitats include sandbars, ocean beaches, estuaries, mudflats, river and lake shorelines, and tidepools. These birds of North America and beyond love to spend their time in ecosystems near oceans. These birds choose High Arctic tundra, especially on rocky ridges or shores, for nesting habitats during their breeding season. During their migration along the coasts of North America, they prefer to stop at beaches, ponds, rocky coastlines, and prairie lakes that are highly packed. Overall these birds love being on the water's edge as their habitat.
Who do sanderlings live with?
Sanderlings live in groups. A flock of sanderlings is known as a 'grain.'
How long does a sanderling live?
The sanderling bird has a lifespan of seven years. The longest lifespan of sanderling birds ever recorded was 13 years. These birds' populations are affected both by predators and habitat degradation.
How do they reproduce?
Sanderlings use different breeding practices. Some birds prefer to mate with multiple partners, whereas some prefer to have the same partner for the whole season. Some of these birds form pairs as soon as they arrive on the breeding grounds, and their breeding period lasts from May to June. The pairs are chosen when males mostly, rarely females, perform displays. These displays for impressing their partner have some vocalizations involved too and, sometimes, more than one bird displays simultaneously. This display can be as long as two minutes and often has a song accompanied with it. If a pair forms, the male then calls to females with a jerky walk, and the female responds back. After this, the pair sticks together for the season.
After the pairs are decided, a breeding area is chosen for females to make a nest. Females then lay eggs in June or at the beginning of July. The number of eggs laid by a female is four, which are laid in intervals of almost a day. These eggs have a greenish color with brown spots and they are incubated for 23-27 days. Sometimes, the incubation can last up to 32 days. After the eggs have finished hatching, the eggshells are taken away by parents from the nest. The day after hatching, young ones are taken away from their nest by a parent, and they become fledging birds when they are 12-14 days old. Young fledglings are entirely dependent on their parents until they are 17-21 days old. Young birds grow and go on to breed when they are two years old.
What is their conservation status?
The conservation status of these birds who love to be on the water's edge is Least Concern. These are one of the most common shorebirds, found commonly in coastal areas. In just South and North America, the number of sanderlings is 300,000. However, even though these are a Least Concern species, their number is declining. This is because their habitat is being altered. These aquatic birds are vulnerable to pesticides, oil spills, alteration of shorelines, and competition for food. Humans often compete with these birds for food, as is witnessed in the Chesapeake Bay. Young sanderlings also sometimes can't sometimes stand extreme weather conditions, leading to death.
Sanderling Fun Facts
What do sanderlings look like?
Sanderlings are a kind of sandpiper bird that are small in size. They have stout bodies that only grow up to 7.1 in-7.9 in (18 cm-20 cm). Their wingspan is that 14 in (35.6 cm). They have black legs, their beak is black, and their weight is around 1.4 oz-3.5 oz (40 g-100 g). During non-breeding plumage, they have colors of white and pale gray. At times of full breeding plumage, their colors change to deep colors with a dark patch on the shoulder extending to the breast along with black legs and a black bill. The breeding plumage makes the upper body color of sanderlings breed reddish-brown.
How cute are they?
The species of sanderling is really cute. Their small bodies give them a really cute appearance and the color that this bird species show against blue waves and coastal beaches makes them look very pretty. The young birds, right after hatching, may not look the cutest, but when they grow some feathers, they are sure to make you go 'aww'!
How do they communicate?
Every species has its own way of communicating. A sanderling's chick calls include chirping when they are startled or when they want to eat. Adult sanderlings also make sharp chirping sounds to alert others of an imminent predator. When the danger passes, they use a different call to tell each other that the area is safe now. Other than chirping sounds, the sanderling species uses various displays and songs for partners during the breeding season. This display secures their partners, thus allowing the sanderlings to begin to breed.
How big is a sanderling?
Sanderlings are smaller than most sandpipers. With a weight range of 40-100 g (1.4-3.5 oz) and a body length of 18-20 cm (7.1-7.9 inches), they are medium-sized birds of the 'peeps' group. These birds are small when compared to the red knot, but are larger when compared to the least sandpiper. This bird species is almost of the same size as the dunlin.
How fast can a sanderling fly?
This species is a migratory bird species. There is no exact information available on how fast this bird species flies, but they sure can fly at good speeds. Their migration path is vast as the same species of this shorebird can be found on both coasts of North America. This black bill bird makes long flights with few stops in between.
How much does a sanderling weigh?
The weight of these birds ranges between 40-100 g (1.4-3.5 oz). The average weight of this bird is 52 g (1.7 oz).
What are their male and female names of the species?
Males and females do not have specific names. Both genders are known by the common name 'sanderling.'
What would you call a baby sanderling?
A baby sanderling is known as a chick.
What do they eat?
This bird's diet contains small organisms. They look for food by the water's edge by probing their beaks into the soft sand. As these birds are omnivores, they not only eat small animals like small clams, flies, worms, mosquitoes, horseshoe crab eggs, and crabs, but also eat roots, seeds, nuts, berries, and shoots. Sanderlings feed on these small organisms and plants when they have pitstops during their migration.
Are they friendly?
This bird species is known to be a social bird species. They fly in flocks and look for food on beaches together. If a single bird spots a predator, it alerts the whole flock, and they all fly away. These birds love to be free and are not particularly friendly with humans, but amongst their own flocks, they are certainly a friendly species.
Would they make a good pet?
No, this Arctic tundra bird cannot be a good pet. These birds are wild birds and are not great at human interaction. In many places, it is illegal to pet them, harass, capture, harm, or kill them.
Did you know...
This bird species is widespread across the world and these birds are strong runners because they miss a hind toe.
These birds nest in the Arctic tundra only but can be found in almost all tropical and temperate sandy beaches around the globe in the winter season.
A German naturalist named Peter Simon Pallas first described this bird in 1764.
The longest living sanderling was from Nova Scotia and was recorded to be 13 years and one month old.
Non-breeding birds tend to be found in the wintering grounds rather than taking long trips to nesting grounds in the Arctic tundra to save up energy through the summer. A few stay on the coast in North America, whereas many non-breeders remain on the South American coast.
These South and North American birds regurgitate pellets after foraging on the beach because these pellets have fragments of crustacean shells and mollusks.
What's the difference between a sandpiper and a sanderling?
Both species, the sanderling and the sandpiper, are small birds who have similar markings on their body. Both these birds travel and stay in their flocks. The difference is that the sanderling is larger, has various plumages, and has a rounder and chunkier body appearance. Their bills are also more stout. Sandpipers, on the other hand, have four toes with partially webbed feet.
Where do sanderlings nest?
A sanderling (Calidris alba) usually nests near freshwater lake shores. A coastal area with no or little vegetation is the best spot to place their nests on the ground and a female makes the nest alone. The nest is a hollow cup-shape that is formed using leaves, moss, lichens, pebbles, and twigs. The size of the nest is roughly 2.5 in (6.35 cm) in depth, and the width is about 3 in (7.62 cm). This is the most suitable habitat where a female then lays her eggs.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including the swan, or the owl.
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