American migrant – Pectoral Sandpiper

The pectoral sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) is a migratory wading bird that breeds in North America and Asia, winters in South America and the South Pacific, but also spends time in Siberia. However, you can see them in the UK and Europe. They’re often caught on Westerly winds and hit the British Isles from North America and on Easterlies that bring them in from Siberia.

Most commonly, they’ll be seen in late summer and autumn. There were quite a few on the wetlands at RSPB Titchwell in North Norfolk when we visited in mid-July. According to the RSPB, “It is the most common North American wading bird to occur here and has even started to breed in Scotland very recently.”

The sandpiper name refers to its call and to its shoreline existence while the pectoral refers to the bird’s brown breast band. The scientific binomial is from ancient Greek: kalidris or skalidris was a term used by Aristotle to refer to some grey-coloured waterside birds while melanotos is from melas meaning black and notos meaning backed.

Listen to a pectoral sandpiper recorded for “xeno canto” in Scotland: