Calidris alba
Range Map

Breeding Sanderlings fly north in spring as far as land reaches toward the North Pole. Any land mass between 70° and 80° North Latitude might host these birds in summer. This species is circumpolar and breeds in the tundra in the High Arctic areas of North America, Greenland, Europe and Asia. Winters will find them on the coastline anywhere on the globe, where they usually look for sandy beaches in places like South America, South Europe, Africa, and Australia. Non-breeding birds spend their summers on the wintering grounds, and breeding birds will join them when the season for procreation has completed.

Sanderlings are monotypic, meaning there are no recognised subspecies.

Endlessly entertaining to watch, we usually see Sanderlings chasing the waves along shallow, sandy beaches, often in large flocks in their search for food such as Mole Crabs (commonly called Sand Crabs). I have spent hours watching these birds on Southern California beaches. By sitting quietly and waiting for the foraging birds to come to me, I’ve had better luck capturing images, than by running amok trying to keep up with their wanderings up and down the long sandy beaches they love.

Most of my meetings with Sanderlings have been along Southern California beaches, but I’ve also seen them 600 miles off the Mexican mainland on Isla Socorro and Isla San Benedicto. During my spring 2020 and 2021 expeditions to Texas, I found these birds from the mouth of the Rio Grande on Boca Chica Beach near Brownsville, and north along the Texas Gulf Coast to Corpus Christi.

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