Broad-billed Sandpiper

Did you know?

Sandpipers belong to the family Scolopacidae, which is the largest wader family in the world and includes curlews, godwits, and snipe. Juveniles hatch in the northern hempisphere summer and migrate to the Southern Hempisphere, where they remain until they are more than a year old before returning to their breeding areas.

Calls
Trilling 'chree-eep' in flight
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
No
Minimum Size: 
16cm
Maximum Size: 
18cm
Average size: 
18cm
Average weight: 
37g
Breeding season: 
Northern Hemisphere summer - June to August.
Clutch Size: 
4
Conservation Status
Federal: 
NT: 
QLD: 
VIC: 
WA: 
Basic Information
Scientific Name: 
Featured bird groups: 
Atlas Number: 
167
What does it look like?
Description: 

Also known as the Eastern Broad-billed Sandpiper, the Broad-billed Sandpiper is a small, short-necked, shot-legged migratory wader with a diagnostic long, straight black bill which is flattened and kinked downards at the tip. The wing-tips project a short distance beyond the tip of the tail at rest. In Australia the Broad-billed Sandpiper is only seen in its non-breeding plumage, in which the centre of the forehead, crown, nape, hindneck and sides of the neck are a pale grey-brown finely streaked with black. The underbody is mostly white and the foreneck and breast are pale-grey brown with a fine dark streaking. There are two light stripes above the eyes and a dark median stripe.

Similar species: 

The Broad-billed Sandpiper may be confused with the Red-necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis), or the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Calidris acuminata). The Broad-billed Sandpiper is identifiable by its characteristic bill.

Where does it live?
Distribution: 

There are two recognised sub-species of the Broad-billed Sandpiper. The sub-species sibirica breeds in the north and north-east of the Soviet Union and migrates to eastern India, South-east Asia and Australia. In Australia it is distributed over the northern coasts, particulary the north west, with occasional birds seen on the southern coasts and very occasionally inland.

Habitat: 

Whilst in Australia, Broad-billed Sandpipers are most commonly seen feeding and roosting in estuarine mudflats, saltmarshes, and reefs. Individuals have occasionally been recorded at sewage farms and freshwater lagoons. The intertidal mudflats along the north coast are preferred, particularly areas of soft mud on the seaward side of mangroves.

Seasonal movements: 

Northern Hemisphere June to August. Southern Hemisphere September to May.

What does it do?
Feeding: 

The Broad-billed Sandpiper feeds whilst wading, rapidly and repeatedly jabbing its bill into soft wet mud, looking for crustaceans (e.g. crabs), worms, molluscs (e.g. shellfish) and seeds.

Breeding: 

Breeding occurs between June and August in the Northern Hemisphere, the favoured breeding habitat being bogs in the montane subartic zone. The males build several nests, with one being selected by the female. The incubation and care of the single brood is shared by both parents.

Living with us

The biggest human threat to the Broad-billed Sandpiper is in the development within their preferred habitat, specifically coastal estuaries, mudflats, and saltmarshes. Other potential impacts include hydrological changes to inland lakes which may modify or remove important areas of suitable habitat for those individuals that remain in Australia over winter.

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