Rock sandpiper

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Rock sandpiper
Calidris ptilocnemis1.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Scolopacidae
Genus: Calidris
Species: C. ptilocnemis
Binomial name
Calidris ptilocnemis
Coues, 1873

Erolia ptilocnemis

The rock sandpiper (Calidris or Erolia ptilocnemis) is a small shorebird.


Rock Sandpiper
Rock Sandpiper on the Humboldt Bay North Jetty, near Eureka, California

Adults have short yellow legs and a medium thin dark bill. The body is dark on top with a slight purplish gloss and mainly white underneath. The breast is smeared with grey and the rump is black. The Pribilof Islands subspecies of this bird shows a bold black belly patch.


Their breeding habitat is the northern tundra on Arctic Pacific coast of Alaska and the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands. The birds also breed in Kamchatka and the Kuril Islands. The breeding pair is usually monogamous, with pair bonds usually lasting several years. They nest on the ground either elevated on rocks or in lower damp location. The males makes several scrapes; the female choose one and lays 4 eggs. Both the male and female take the responsibility for incubation.


There are four subspecies of rock sandpipers:


Birds migrate south to rocky ice-free Pacific coasts in winter. The subspecies leap frog each other for winter, with more northerly breeders passing south of more southerly breeders. It can form rather large wintering flocks.


These birds forage on rocky coasts. They mainly eat insects, mollusks, marine worms, also some plant material. It often feeds up to its breast in water, and often swims. It roosts on rocks near its feeding grounds just above the high tide spray.


  • "National Geographic" Field Guide to the Birds of North America ISBN 0-7922-6877-6
  • Handbook of the Birds of the World Vol 3, Josep del Hoyo editor, ISBN 84-87334-10-5
  • "National Audubon Society" The Sibley Guide to Birds, by David Allen Sibley, ISBN 0-679-45122-6