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Bird of the Week: Spotted Sandpiper

Okanogan Country | 07/30/2019 | Blog, Methow Valley, The Great Outdoors, Wildlife Viewing

"Spotted Sandpipers are "shorebirds" that are common just about all over Washington. Here in Okanogan County, we see (and hear!) them along rivers and streams though they could also be found in gravel pits, farm ponds and other wetlands. These birds are still active in July - listen for their piercing high-pitched alarm call along rivers warning you to stay back. They do this because they make nests directly on the ground, in the river cobbles, typically within 100 yards of the water's edge. The nest is just a little depression in the soil, often under a small cottonwood or other shrub, lined with dead vegetation. 

Females typically take the lead in establishing a territory and creating the nest - and she may do this with several males. Therefore, it's each individual male who takes the primary role in incubating a clutch of eggs and taking care of the young, while the female scurries about defending her one or more nest sites. Watch your step if you are by a river or stream and hear the loud warning cry of a mother sandpiper!"

Mary Kiesau | Local Naturalist and Photographer

Fun Facts

Information from the Seattle Audubon Society

  • Spotted Sandpipers have dark spots on their undersides during the breeding season. The beak is relatively short, straight, and yellowish in breeding plumage. In non-breeding plumage, Spotted Sandpipers lose most of their spots.
  • Spotted Sandpipers are fairly solitary, and are seldom seen in flocks.
  • Spotted Sandpipers eat a wide variety of invertebrates.
  • When foraging, they pick up items from the surface of the ground or water, but will also grab insects out of the air. 
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