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Sanderling at Beach after Storm.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Calidris alba

The Sanderling (Calidris alba) is a small wader or shorebird, most commonly considered a sandpiper, but the genus Calidris is debated.[1]

According to[2], the "Sanderling is one of the most widespread wintering shorebirds in the world", being found on almost all temperate and tropical sandy beaches worldwide. In fact, this bird is found on every continent except Antarctica in at least one season a year.[3]


Sanderling in Seagrass on Beach.

The National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds describes the Sanderling as a "starling-sized shorebird with a conspicuous white wing stripe."[4] They are normally the lightest, or one of the lightest, small sandpiper-like shorebirds when found along with other similar shorebirds. Their bellies are usually very white, while the head and breast can be rufous in the summer, but pale gray in the winter. Their beaks are medium-length, blunted, and dark. Their legs are also dark, and fairly short to medium-length.

The juvenile or immature C. alba will have a black and white mottled back with fine black and white streaking on their bellies.[2]

Habitat and Behavior

Sanderling On Beach After Storm.

Sanderlings at Beach‎

The Sanderlings habitat are primarily sandy beaches,[3] where they are "most commonly seen in flocks chasing receding waves on ocean beaches, and running away from them when they return."[2] This behavior provides a quick way to identify the bird from a glance. "They are really pecking for small food in the beach sand as the waves recede back"[5] from the large body of water they are near.

The description in the Audubon Birds mobile application says that these birds breed on tundra and winter on ocean beaches, sandbars, mudflats, and other shores."[6]


As stated, the Sanderlings breed on tundra. Their nests are usually ground hollows lined with grasses and lichens. They have usually 4 olive eggs, spotted with brown.[6]


  1. Sanderling Wikipedia. Accessed April 1, 2013.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2
  3. 3.0 3.1 Pranty, Bill, Gregory Kennedy, and Kurt A. Radamaker. "Sanderpipers & Allies: Sanderling." Birds of Florida. Edmonton: Lone Pine Pub., 2006. 148. Print.
  4. Bull, John L., and John Farrand, Jr. "Sanderling." The National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds: Eastern Region. Revised ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997. 483-84. Print.
  5. "List of Shorebird Profiles." Migration Science and Mystery. Prince William Network / USDA Forest Service / National Audubon Society / US Fish and Wildlife Service, 9 Mar. 2007. Web. 20 Mar. 2013. <>.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Sandpipers: Sanderling." Audubon Birds - A Field Guides. Green Mountain Digital / Natural Share, 2011. Mobile App. 21 Mar. 2013. <>.