The Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) is a small to medium-sized shorebird species that breeds in the high Arctic tundra of North America. Adults measure around 7-8 inches in length, with a wingspan of 16-18 inches and weigh between 1.5 and 3 ounces. They have a distinctive streaked chest, a brownish-gray back, and a white belly. Males and females are similar in appearance, with the males being slightly larger than the females.
One of the most distinguishing field marks of the Pectoral Sandpiper is its heavily streaked breast. This streaking extends down the sides, creating a distinctive “V” shape on the bird’s chest. The face is dark brown, and the bill is black and fairly long, measuring around 1 inch in length. In flight, the Pectoral Sandpiper shows a distinctive white stripe above its wings, which is visible from a distance.
The Pectoral Sandpiper is a long-distance migrant, traveling from its breeding grounds in the high Arctic tundra to its wintering grounds in southern South America. During migration, it can be found in a variety of wetland habitats, including mudflats, flooded fields, and shallow ponds. They typically arrive on their breeding grounds in late May and early June, and by late August, they begin their migration south, reaching their wintering grounds by October.
The Pectoral Sandpiper is a highly migratory species, and its population is currently thought to be stable. However, like many migratory birds, it faces threats from habitat loss and degradation along its migratory routes and wintering grounds. Conservation efforts, including the protection of key stopover sites and wintering habitats, are essential to ensure the long-term survival of this species.
In conclusion, the Pectoral Sandpiper is a distinctive and fascinating shorebird species. With its heavily streaked breast and white stripe above its wings, it is easily recognizable in flight. Its long-distance migration, from the high Arctic tundra to southern South America, is an impressive feat of endurance and adaptation. However, this species faces threats from habitat loss and degradation, highlighting the importance of conservation efforts to ensure its survival.