Rock Sandpiper

Rock Sandpiper Calidris ptilocnemis breeds Alaska and adjacent Siberia and mainly winters on Pacific coast of North America; there is also a regular wintering population on Pacific coast of Japan. Vagrant Hebei. HABITAT Almost always on rocky coasts (not muddy estuaries, as  Dunlin C. alpina). ID & COMPARISON Breeding resembles Dunlin, but on Dunlin patch is on belly, whereas on Rock Sandpiper black patch is on lower breast and not as solid as Dunlin. Rock Sandpiper also much more stocky than Dunlin. Juvenile has dark upperparts neatly fringed whitish and streaked breast. With its combination of slate-grey upperparts, head and neck, blotchy breast and flanks, and white underparts, Rock Sandpiper in winter resembles no other calidrid in China. BARE PARTS Feet dull yellow, in contrast to black feet of Dunlin. Mainly black bill bends downward at tip like Dunlin but is yellowish at base, unlike completely black bill of Dunlin. VOICE Mostly quiet away from breeding grounds. Short tiit contact call. — Craig Brelsford

THE CALIDRIDS OF CHINA covers every species in the genus Calidris in China. Click any link below:

Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris
Red Knot C. canutus
Ruff C. pugnax
Broad-billed Sandpiper C. falcinellus
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper C. acuminata
Curlew Sandpiper C. ferruginea
Temminck’s Stint C. temminckii
Long-toed Stint C. subminuta
Spoon-billed Sandpiper C. pygmaea
Red-necked Stint C. ruficollis
Sanderling C. alba
Dunlin C. alpina
Rock Sandpiper C. ptilocnemis
Baird’s Sandpiper C. bairdii
Little Stint C. minuta
Least Sandpiper C. minutilla
White-rumped Sandpiper C. fuscicollis
Buff-breasted Sandpiper C. subruficollis
Pectoral Sandpiper C. melanotos
Western Sandpiper C. mauri


Daniel Bengtsson served as chief ornithological consultant for Craig Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, from which this species description is drawn.

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