Family Sandpipers, Snipes, Phalaropes (Scolopacidae)

Least Concern

Surfbird (Calidris virgata)


French: Bécasseau du ressac German: Gischtläufer Spanish: Correlimos de rompientes

Tringa virgata

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,

Prince William Sound, Alaska


Hitherto placed in monotypic genus, Aphriza, within subfamily Arenariinae, with superficially similar turnstones, but recent study indicates that it belongs in Calidris#R (see also under Tribe Calidrini). Monotypic.


C & S Alaska and W Yukon. Winters on Pacific coast of America, from Kodiak I and Alexander Archipelago (SE Alaska) S to Straits of Magellan.

Descriptive notes

23–26 cm; 133–251 g; wingspan 55 cm. Large sandpiper, recalling Arenaria but also reminiscent of C. tenuirostris; strongly streaked head, neck... read more


Song highly structured and harsh-sounding, comprising rapidly repeated “wickee-doo” or “week-doo”... read more


Rocky ridges in mountains, alpine tundra, typically with vegetation of moss, avens (Dryas... read more

Food and feeding

On breeding grounds, takes insects, mainly Diptera (including eggs, pupae and adults), also beetles (especially Carabidae), with very small... read more


Very poorly documented. Lays mid May to early Jun. Densities of 2·9–4·7 birds/km² reported on breeding grounds.... read more


Strongly migratory; mainly along coast, but few birds may overfly W USA during northward movement... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Breeding population 50,000–70,000 birds. Large proportion of total population may stopover in Prince William Sound, SC Alaska,... read more

Recommended citation

Van Gils, J., Wiersma, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Surfbird (Calidris virgata). 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 19 February 2020).