Purple Sandpiper Calidris maritima   [Brünnich, 1764]

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Order: Charadriiformes Family: Scolopacidae
BTO Codes: PS, PURSA EURING No: 5100
Number in Britain: 13 thousand birds (Winter)
Conservation Status:
European: Not a species of concern
Global: (Details)
Status in UK: (A)  Scarce Breeder, Passage/Winter Visitor
Subspecies: Monotypic
Length: 21 cm Wingspan: 44 cm Weight: M/F: 65 g    
Scientific name from: Gr.: kalidris=grey waterside bird described by Aristotle and L.: maritimus=of the sea (from mare=the sea)
World Distribution: BREEDS arctic& subarctic Eurasia & North America, WINTERS: south to s Europe and s US
Habitat: Tundra, moor, heath, on migration rocky coasts
Diet: Invertebrates, also some plant material, often feeds on rocks near tide 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: 13 thousand individuals in 2004/05 - 2008/09
    Summer: 1 Pairs in
    First Record: 1798 [Fossil evidence from early Holocene, up to 10,000 yr ago]
    First Breeding Record: nw Scotland 1978
    Latest Survey: Musgrove, A. et al. (2013) British Birds 106:64-100
    Conservation Status: AMBER because Recent Non-breeding Population Decline (1981-2007), Small Breeding Population,
   Previous Assessments: 2002-2007 AMBER     1996-2001 AMBER  
   Races of Concern:
Habitat Occupancy (in the Breeding Season):
    No habitat data from BBS
Migration routes: Map of foreign ringing recoveries
European Population Size:
    Summer: 28 to 74 thousand pairs
Population Assesment from Birds in Europe
Distribution in Europe mapped by the EBCC Atlas
Listed on the Appendices/Schedules of: WCA(I), Bern(III), Bonn(II), AEWA
Survey Results:

Breeding and Survival

Egg Size: 38 x 27 mm Egg Weight: 13.3 g (of which 5 % is shell)
Number of Nest Records: 0
Clutch Size: 4 eggs
Incubation: 21- 22 days   by the: Male (occ. Female)
Fledging: 15 - 28days 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: 0.795 ± 0.028       
Juvenile Survival: No data
Age at First Breeding: 2 years Typical Lifespan: 6 years
Maximum Recorded Age: 13 years 11 months 0 days (set in 1983)
Read a summary of Ringing Recoveries


Ring Size: B+ or C2
Wing Length Adult: 131.8 ± 4.1 Range 125 - 138 mm, N =1533
Juvenile: 130.4 ± 3.9 123 - 136 mm, N =115
Male: Insufficient Data
Female: Insufficient Data
Weight Adult: 70.85 ± 8.99 Range 57.00 - 86.00 g , N =1524
Juvenile: 67.64 ± 7.59 55.00 - 80.00 g , N =114
Male: Insufficient Data
Female: Insufficient Data
British Trust for Ornithology (2005) Ringing Scheme data

Other Names

Gaelic: Luatharan-rìoghail Welsh: Pibydd Du
Danish: Sortgrå ryle Dutch: Paarse strandloper
Finnish: Merisirri French: Bécasseau violet
German: Meerstrandläufer Hungarian: Tengeri partfutó
Icelandic: Sendlingur Irish: Gobadán Cosbhuí
Italian: Piovanello violetto Norwegian: Fjæreplytt
Polish: Biegus morski Portuguese: Pilrito-escuro
Spanish: Correlimos oscuro Swedish: Skärsnäppa
Local Names: Grollick

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All About Birds (from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology)