The Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) is a medium-sized sandpiper, grouped as a wader bird (of the order Charadriiformes) that are commonly found along shorelines and mudflats, where they forage for food.

The species breeds in the high tundra Arctic regions of Russia, Alaska and Canada, then migrates through the Americas to winter in southern South America. They are known to come to Australia, having been recorded throughout mainland Australia and Tasmania, with most sightings having been in the eastern states.

The Pectoral Sandpiper species are characterised by a flat back and a plumpish body that tapers to a drawn out rear end. The upper parts are an overall brown-tone, the plumage being brown with pale snipe-like stripes on the back. They have dense streaking on the lower throat, with the streaking to the upper breast, and a sharp contrast with the white belly. They have a small rounded head and a longish neck. At rest, the folded primaries (flight feathers) are level with the tail. In breeding adults the folded primaries are short, whilst in juveniles they are long. Their legs are yellowish, sometimes with a pale greenish patch. They have a two-toned bill that is yellowish at the base and darker towards the end.

The term “Pectoral” refers to the large air sac in the throat of the male bird, that they puff out during the breeding display.

In Australia, they have been sighted in shallow flooded pastures, grassy mudflats, muddy marshes, and other water sources such as sewage ponds. They can sometimes be seen with other shorebirds sharing water resources.

Common name
Pectoral Sandpiper, American Pectoral Sandpiper, Pouter-shorebird.

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Charadriiformes
  • Family: Scolopacidae
  • Genus: Calidris
  • Species: C. melanotos
  • Binomial name: Calidris melanotos