Waders | Sharp-tailed Sandpiper > water

The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Calidris acuminata) is a medium-sized sandpiper, grouped as a wader bird (of the order Charadriiformes) that migrate to Australia and some of our close neighbours during our warmer months, from the tundra of the Arctic Siberia and northeast Asia. They have also been observed as vagrants to Europe, India, North America, Fiji and parts of the central Pacific region.

The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper are not to be mistaken for the Pectoral Sandpiper in that they have…

— notice that the streaks stop around the neck area rather than continuing down its breast, also they taper off into a tan colour rather than ending in a clear white line across the breast. The chestnut colour on the head is also a good indicator for Sharp-tailed over Pectoral, which is generally brown all over.

Pamela Keil, BirdLife Central Australia, Facebook, 12 October 2021

The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper have reddish brown upperparts that fringed with paler buff. In the adult the fringe has a more brighter warmer tone. The breeding adults have underparts that is heavily marked with chevrons and spots, with a strongly coloured chestnut cap and white eyeing. The non-breeding adults have a duller greyish-brown plumage and a dull brown cap. The juveniles are brighter in plumage, bright cap and contrasting white eyeline. They have a plain buffy breast. The legs are an olive colour, and they have a paler colour at the base of the bill.

Their Sharp-tailed Sandpiper are similar to Pectoral Sandpiper, however the main difference is that the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper lacks a sharp demarcation between the streaked breast and white belly.

This migratory wader appear to be finely tuned into Australia’s boom-and-bust ecology, during which in years of inland floods, they are seen in numbers on the banks of inland floodplains foraging for food.

Common name
Asiatic Knot, Asiatic Pectoral Sandpiper, Siberian Knot, Siberian Pectoral Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Stint, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Sharpie.

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