Family Sandpipers, Snipes, Phalaropes (Scolopacidae)

Least Concern

Purple Sandpiper (Calidris maritima)


French: Bécasseau violet German: Meerstrandläufer Spanish: Correlimos oscuro

Tringa Maritima


, 1764,

Christiansø, off Bornholm, Denmark


Formerly placed in genus Erolia. Closely related to C. ptilocnemis, with which formerly considered conspecific. Considerable geographical variation in size may warrant recognition of at least two subspecies. Proposed race groenlandica (Greenland) among the smallest, but little different from those in Spitsbergen and Norway (maritima), and from which geographically separated by proposed littoralis (Iceland), which is largest#R; belcheri (E Hudson Bay and James Bay, in Canada) possibly distinct. More study needed. Has perhaps hybridized with C. alpina#R. Treated as monotypic.


Arctic and subarctic regions from NE Canada through Greenland, Iceland, Svalbard, Franz Josef Land, Novaya Zemlya and Severnaya Zemlya to Taymyr Peninsula, in NC Siberia; also N temperate regions of Fennoscandia. Winters on coasts of E North America and W Europe.

Descriptive notes

20–22 cm; male 49–94 g, female 51–105 g; wingspan 42–26 cm. Medium-sized sandpiper with yellow legs and yellow base to bill; black-brown crown, mantle... read more


Song is variable in both its length and complexity, but typically consists of a series of short... read more


In high Arctic breeds from sea-level up to c. 300 m, in low Arctic and subarctic also on inland... read more

Food and feeding

During breeding season, invertebrates, including insects such as springtails (Collembola), adults, pupae and larvae of dipteran flies (... read more


Lays from mid May in Faeroes and Iceland, late Jun in Svalbard, mid Jun to mid Jul in N Russia (where hatching typically occurs in fourth... read more


Migratory and sometimes partially migratory, but movements in various low Arctic and N temperate... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Overall population perhaps 170,000–220,000 birds. In total at least c. 66,000 breeding pairs in NW Europe, of which some 50,000... read more

Recommended citation

Van Gils, J., Wiersma, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Purple Sandpiper (Calidris maritima). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 14 November 2019).