Spotted Sandpiper

Tringa macularia
Range Map

The Spotted Sandpiper winters from Southern and Central California and east across the southern USA to Georgia in North America and south to northern Argentina in South America. Breeding territories are further north, and extend from the Pacific Northwest, through the southern Intermountain states, and east to the mid-Atlantic coast over most of the North American continent to Canada and Alaska.

There are a couple of readily identifiable traits in this species. One is their bouncing gate when walking on a foraging campaign. They are reminiscent of dippers and pipits when so engaged. Another trait is their uneven wingbeats and downward slanted wings when in flight, especially when gliding in for a landing.

Spotted Sandpipers share a practice with phalaropes science calls polyandry. Females take on multiple mates and leave the males to tend to nesting and child-rearing duties. If unable to find additional mates, the females may stick around to care for and raise the young of the last mating.

Despite the wide-ranging territories of these birds, today’s science regards the Spotted Sandpiper as monotypic (i.e. no subspecies).

I’ve met these charming creatures in many of the places I’ve travelled, yet I never tire of watching their shoreline dances. During the earliest days of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, I was locked down in my Brownsville (Texas) RV Park. Spotted Sandpipers foraging at the shoreline of the resaca in camp were one of several species that entertained me during those trying times.

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