Family Sandpipers, Snipes, Phalaropes (Scolopacidae)

Least Concern

Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)


French: Chevalier grivelé German: Drosseluferläufer Spanish: Andarríos maculado

Tringa macularia


, 1766,

Pennsylvania, USA


Formerly considered conspecific with A. hypoleucos. Some authors have recognized two subspecies, rava in W of range and nominate in E, but differences generally considered minimal. Monotypic.


Much of North America, from Alaska across Canada to Newfoundland, S to SC California, E Arizona and W New Mexico, thence E to North Carolina. Winters from S USA through Central America and West Indies to South America S to N Argentina and C Chile; in most years, also Galapagos Is.

Descriptive notes

18–20 cm; 19–75·5 g; wingspan 37–40 cm. Smallish size and neatly spotted underparts distinctive; greenish-brown upperparts with dark barring; bill... read more


Song comprises long string of “weet” notes, given by both sexes in flight (in upward arching... read more


Nesting habitat similar to that of A. hypoleucos, in wide variety of habitats, preferably... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly aquatic and terrestrial insects, e.g. adult, larval and pupal Diptera, mayflies, Orthoptera, beetles and caterpillars; also spiders... read more


Lays mid May to Jun. Sex roles reversed, with female larger and socially dominant over male. Yearling sequentially resource-defence... read more


Migrates on broad fronts across North America, after breeding presumably moving SE through Atlantic... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Overall population estimated at c. 640,000 birds; most widely distributed breeding scolopacid in North America, with more than 50,000... read more

Recommended citation

Van Gils, J., Wiersma, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius). 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 28 February 2020).