Family Sandpipers, Snipes, Phalaropes (Scolopacidae)

Least Concern

Rock Sandpiper (Calidris ptilocnemis)


French: Bécasseau des Aléoutiennes German: Beringstrandläufer Spanish: Correlimos roquero

Tringa ptilocnemis


, 1873,

St George Island, Pribilof Islands


Formerly placed in genus Erolia. Closely related to C. maritima, with which formerly considered conspecific. Birds from Kuril Is have on occasion been awarded separate race kurilensis. Four subspecies normally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. p. quarta (E. J. O. Hartert, 1920) – S Kamchatka, Commander Is and probably Kuril Is; winters S to E Japan.
  • C. p. tschuktschorum (Portenko, 1937) – E Chukotskiy Peninsula, St Lawrence I, Nunivak I and W Alaska; winters on coasts of NW North America S to N California and locally in E Japan.
  • C. p. ptilocnemis (Coues, 1873) – islands in E Bering Sea (St Matthew I, Hall I and Pribilof Is); winters on S Alaska Peninsula E to Alexander Archipelago.
  • C. p. couesi (Ridgway, 1880) – Aleutian Is and Alaska Peninsula, including Shumagin Is and Kodiak I; winters throughout same areas.
  • Descriptive notes

    20–23 cm; male 80–132, female 118–135 g; wingspan 34–46 cm. Chunky, medium-sized sandpiper. Adult nominate (and many tschuktschorum) very pale on... read more


    On the breeding grounds, display call in flight is a series of very burry drawn-out bisyllabic... read more


    Nests in upland tundra in coastal regions, probably at lower altitudes than C. maritima,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Molluscs (including snails), marine worms, crustaceans, icebound sea lice, sandfleas, flies, beetles and gammarids; some algae. Picks prey... read more


    Laying early May to late Jun, mainly early Jun. Monogamous, often for several years. Up to 12 breeding pairs/km²; high degree of site... read more


    Partly migratory; leap-frog migration, with northernmost breeders winter S of more S breeding... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). No population estimates available; numbers thought to be low; 4000 counted on Nelson Lagoon, Alaska Peninsula, in 1979, of which... read more

    Recommended citation

    Van Gils, J., Wiersma, P. & Boesman, P. (2020). Rock Sandpiper (Calidris ptilocnemis). 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 20 February 2020).