Two Calgary shorebirds – Spotted Sandpiper and Solitary Sandpiper

I spotted two sandpipers on the Elbow River this week. Both were solitary but only one was a Solitary Sandpiper. And only one had spots, but it wasn’t a Spotted Sandpiper!


This Spotted Sandpiper was my first Calgary shorebird sighting. It turns out juvenile Spotted Sandpipers don’t have any spots, nor do the non-breeding adults. The dark, scalloped pattern on this Spotted Sandpiper’s wings suggests the bird is a juvenile. He/she was hopping from rock to rock on the east bank, a little south of where the Elbow River branches off from the Bow River. A few other “peeps” landed briefly on the east bank as I was strolling on the opposite side, but they didn’t stay put long enough to be featured in cute photographs.


This Solitary Sandpiper was walking and pausing at the base of the concrete-reinforced riverbank just north of Stanley Park.


Unlike other shorebirds, Solitary Sandpipers do not migrate in large flocks; they migrate alone or in small flocks. These sandpipers also differ from other shorebirds in their nesting behaviour. While all other shorebirds build their nests on the ground, the Solitary Sandpiper and the Green Sandpiper (found in Europe and Asia, but not North America) lay their eggs in trees, in the abandoned nests of perching birds.


  1. Oh, those darned confusing names! 🙂 Great photos…especially love that second one with the beautiful water ripples behind the bird. I didn’t know that about the nesting habits of shorebirds!

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    1. Thanks Teresa :-). I got lucky with the sun, water, bird and camera angles on that second photo. I’m not a voracious reader, but I do try to learn a bit about the new birds I see. I thought it was interesting that there are two species of shorebirds that use abandoned perching bird nests. The delightful, unexpected varieties of life!

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