Pectoral sandpiper (Calidris melanotos)

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The pectoral sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) is a small, migratory wader that breeds in North America and Asia, wintering in South America and Oceania. It eats small invertebrates. Its nest, a hole scraped in the ground and with a thick lining, is deep enough to protect its four eggs from the cool breezes of its breeding grounds.

This bird looks similar to the widely sympatric sharp-tailed sandpiper (“C.” acuminata), which is not a member of the stint clade however. The pectoral sandpiper is a largish calidrid (21 cm (8.3 in) in length, with a wingspan of 46 cm (18 in)) with a grey-brown back, brownest in the summer male, and greyest in winter. The pectoral sandpiper has a grey breast, sharply demarcated at its lower edge, which gives this species its English name; this clear dividing line is particularly conspicuous if the birds are turned towards the observer. The legs are yellowish, and the bill is olive with a darker tip.

The juveniles are more brightly patterned above with rufous colouration and white mantle stripes.

This species differs from the sharp-tailed sandpiper in its breast pattern, weaker supercilium and greyer crown.

Standard Measurements[
length200–240 mm (8–9.6 in)
weight73 g (2.6 oz)
wingspan460 mm (18 in)
wing136–142.8 mm (5.35–5.62 in)
tail60.4–63.9 mm (2.38–2.52 in)
culmen28.7–29.3 mm (1.13–1.15 in)
tarsus27.8–30 mm (1.09–1.18 in)

Few observations in the Danube Delta.


photo: Mihai BACIU


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