Baird's Sandpiper (Calidris bairdii)
This sandpiper was named in honour of Spencer Fullerton Baird (1823-1887), who was the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.
Baird’s sandpiper belongs to the group of small sandpipers known as ‘peeps’. They are 18-19 cm long- smaller than a cardinal- and difficult to distinguish from least and semipalmated sandpipers. These birds remain almost the same colour throughout the year. They have black legs, a slightly buffy breast, light-coloured underparts and brown or grey upper parts marked with black. In the winter their colouring pales slightly from that of the breeding season.
This is one of the most northern sandpipers, breeding from the Arctic coast north to the farthest tip of Ellesmere Island.
Nests are built out of a depression in the ground, sheltered by grass.
The diet of the Baird's sandpiper consists mainly of insects and spiders, but can also include various aquatic invertebrates. The feeding style of Baird's sandpiper is somewhat different from that of other sandpipers. This species rarely probes, but instead picks food articles off the surface of the ground, sprinting in groups along mudflats or in shallow water. In the fall, Baird's sandpipers commonly forage amongst beach detritus.
During migration, they can often be found in the company of other shorebird species, particularly the smaller ‘peeps’, such as semipalmated and least sandpipers. In the fall, Baird's sandpipers fly 6500 km non-stop as they migrate to Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia in Argentina.