Texan Least Sandpipers

Calidris minutilla

The Least Sandpiper is the smallest of the group we call “peeps”. Western and Semipalmated Sandpipers make up the rest of the “Small Peeps” group. These birds fly north each spring to breed in the far north of North America from Alaska to eastern Canada. After the breeding season they roam south and spent the winter anywhere from coastal regions of the USA and south to northern South America and even as far a Chile.

Of the three classic peeps this bird’s legs are greenish yellow (unless covered in mud), distinguishing it from the black legs of the Western and Semipalmated Sandpipers. They can be found in either salt or freshwater environments, but of these three peeps, it is the most likely to be met in freshwater habitats. Least Sandpipers weigh in at one ounce and are the smallest shorebird in the world.

Both parents incubate, but most of the child-rearing falls to the males. Females commonly leave the breeding grounds before the young fledge, and sometimes before the eggs hatch.

In the USA I’ve met these birds in California, Oregon and Texas. Outside of the lower forty-eight I found them 600 miles off the coast of Colima Mexico on Isla Socorro, and on their breeding grounds in the Yukon Territory of northern Canada. This gallery is restricted to those birds I met in Texas. For a broader review of the images I’ve met in these other locations, visit the <Species Gallery>.

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