The Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla) is the smallest shorebird.
This species has greenish legs and a short, thin, dark bill. Breeding adults are brown with dark brown streaks on top and white underneath. They have a light line above the eye and a dark crown. In winter, Least Sandpipers are grey above. The juveniles are brightly patterned above with rufous colouration and white mantle stripes.
This bird can be difficult to distinguish from other similar tiny shorebirds; these are known collectively as "peeps" or "stints". In particular, Least Sandpiper is very similar to its Asian counterpart, Long-toed Stint. It differs from that species in its more compact, shorter-necked appearance, shorter toes, somewhat duller colours, and stronger wingbar.
Their breeding habitat is the northern North American continent on tundra or in bogs. They nest on the ground near water. The female lays 4 eggs in a shallow scrape lined with grass and moss. Both parents incubate; the female leaves before the young birds fledge and sometimes before the eggs hatch. The young birds feed themselves and are able to fly within two weeks of birth.
These birds forage on mudflats, picking up food by sight, sometimes by probing. They mainly eat small crustaceans, insects and snails.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Calidris minutilla". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Harrison, Graham; Janet Harrison (2005). The New Birds of the West Midlands. West Midland Bird Club. ISBN 0-9507881-2-0.
- Jonsson, Lars & Peter J. Grant (1984) Identification of stints and peeps British Birds 77(7):293-315
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Calidris minutilla.|
- An online identification article covering this species and other small calidrids
- Least Sandpiper Species Account - Cornell Lab of Ornithology
- Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla - USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter
- Oiseaux Photos