Baird's Sandpiper  |  

Calidris bairdii


Baird’s Sandpiper is a small (length: 14–17 cm; weight: 40 g) slender shorebird with short legs and very long wings. Sexes are indistinguishable in both breeding and non-breeding plumage; juveniles are distinctive. In breeding plumage, the head and neck are buff-brown with black streaks. The mantle and scapulars are black with buff fringes; the rump and uppertail coverts are sepia with pale rufous edges; and the uppertail is ash-brown with a darker centre. The face is buff-brown with an indistinct buff supercilium, a narrow, dark brown loral stripe which combines with buff-brown ear coverts to form a dusky eye-stripe, and an off-white chin and throat. The front of the neck and breast are buff with fine dark streaks which grade to black spots on the sides of the breast, sharply demarcated from the white belly. The upperwings are mainly grey-brown with blackish brown flight feathers and a white wing bar; and the underwings are white with a dusky leading and trailing edges. The bill is black; the eyes dark brown and the legs and feet are blackish. In non-breeding plumage, the head and neck are grey-brown with fine dark streaks, with the rest of the upperbody grey brown. The face is grey-brown with a dark loral stripe and a pale supercilium, with a white chin and throat. The front of the neck and the breast are grey-buff, with fine dark streaks, and the belly is white. The upperwings have grey-brown or buff-brown inner coverts, with darker brown tertials and greater coverts. Juveniles are similar to adults in non-breeding plumage, but with much bolder streaking, and white fringes to the feathers on the upperparts, giving a distinctly scaled appearance. In its usual range the species usually occurs in flocks, though it is less gregarious than other Calidris waders, but in Australia, where it only occurs as a vagrant, it is likely to be seen singly. All records of Baird’s Sandpipers in Australia have been of single birds.

Government evidence of impact of climate change:

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  • IUCN Red List Assessment, Calidris bairdii

    Systems Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine Threats (see Appendix for additional information) The species may be vulnerable to climate change; driving a mismatch between breeding and peak cranefly abundance (Green and Pearce Higgins 2014).