Sanderling Calidris alba   [Pallas, 1764]

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Order: Charadriiformes Family: Scolopacidae
BTO Codes: SS, SANDE EURING No: 4970
Number in Britain: 16 thousand birds (Winter)
Conservation Status:
European: Not a species of concern
Global: (Details)
Status in UK: (A)  Passage/Winter Visitor
Subspecies: Monotypic
Length: 20 cm Wingspan: 42 cm Weight: M/F: 59 g    
Scientific name from: Gr.: kalidris=grey waterside bird described by Aristotle and L.: albus=white
World Distribution: BREEDS: arctic N America, Greenland, n Siberia, WINTERS: Europe, s Asia to s Africa & Australia, South America
Habitat: Tundra, on migration coastal
Diet: Mostly small invertebrates, some plant material when newly arrived on arctic breeding grounds
TitBit: Uniquely amongst British waders, the Sanderling has no hind toe - giving it a distinctive running action, rather like a clockwork toy, as it darts away from incoming waves on the beach edge.  
Identification Tips:
  Images from IBC or search flickr
  Videos from IBC
  Sound from xeno-canto
Crossley ID photos

Population and Distribution

Population Trend: No population trend available
Distribution: Atlas Mapstore   
British Population Size:
    Winter: 16 thousand individuals in 2004/05 - 2008/09
    Passage: 40000 individuals
    First Record: c. 1600
    Conservation Status: GREEN
   Previous Assessments: 2002-2007 GREEN     1996-2001 GREEN  
   Races of Concern:
Habitat Occupancy (in the Breeding Season):
    No habitat data from BBS
Migration routes: Map of foreign ringing recoveries  and summary map from Time to Fly (in pop-up windows)
European Population Size:
    Summer: 25 to 50 thousand pairs
Population Assesment from Birds in Europe
Distribution in Europe mapped by the EBCC Atlas
Listed on the Appendices/Schedules of: Bern(III), Bonn(II), AEWA
Survey Results:

Breeding and Survival

Egg Size: 36 x 25 mm Egg Weight: 11.2 g (of which 5 % is shell)
Number of Nest Records: 0
Clutch Size: 4 eggs
Incubation: 24- 27 days   by the: Female (occ. Male)?
Fledging: 16 - 18days as: Precocial, downy
First Clutches Laid: Does not breed in Britain, or too few Nest Records
Number of Broods: 1
Number Ringed: Annual Totals
Adult Survival: 0.830       
Juvenile Survival: No data
Age at First Breeding: 2 years Typical Lifespan: 7 years
Maximum Recorded Age: 17 years 7 months 3 days (set in 1988)
Read a summary of Ringing Recoveries


Ring Size: B2
Wing Length Adult: 126.7 ± 3.6 Range 121 - 133 mm, N =1392
Juvenile: 126.2 ± 3.1 121 - 132 mm, N =138
Male: Insufficient Data
Female: Insufficient Data
Weight Adult: 57.68 ± 8.34 Range 46.00 - 73.00 g , N =1473
Juvenile: 55.47 ± 9.04 42.60 - 71.00 g , N =134
Male: Insufficient Data
Female: Insufficient Data
British Trust for Ornithology (2005) Ringing Scheme data

Other Names

Gaelic: Luatharan-glas Welsh: Pibydd y Tywod
Danish: Sandløber Dutch: Drieteenstrandloper
Finnish: Pulmussirri French: Bécasseau sanderling
German: Sanderling Hungarian: Fenyérfutó
Icelandic: Sanderla Irish: Luathrán
Italian: Piovanello tridattilo Norwegian: Sandløper
Polish: Piaskowiec Portuguese: Pilrito-sanderlingo
Spanish: Correlimos tridáctilo Swedish: Sandlöpare
Local Names: Towillee, Curwillet

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All About Birds (from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology)