Wood Sandpiper

Wood Sandpiper

Scientific name: Tringa glareola

Did you know: The Wood Sandpiper, while primarily a passage migrant in the UK, boasts a small but significant breeding population in the Scottish Highlands, making it a unique sighting for bird enthusiasts.

What Do Wood Sandpipers Look Like? (how to identify them)

Wood Sandpipers are medium-sized waders, characterised by their straight, fine bills and yellowish legs. A striking feature is the long white stripe extending from their bill, over their eye, and on the back of their neck. 

When in flight, these birds display dark upperparts and a distinct square white rump. Weighing between 50-90 grams with a wingspan of 36-40 cm, they present a graceful and elegant appearance.

Differences Between Male And Female Wood Sandpipers

Male and female Wood Sandpipers are quite similar in appearance, making it challenging to differentiate between them. Both sexes share the same plumage colours of cream, buff, brown, black, and white. However, subtle distinctions in size and the intensity of colouration may be noted during the breeding season.

What Do Wood Sandpipers Eat?

Wood Sandpipers have a varied diet consisting of worms, spiders, insects, small fish, shellfish, and aquatic invertebrates. During migration and wintering, they are often found foraging in shallow water or wet mud, using their fine bills to probe for these small prey items.

Where Do Wood Sandpipers Live? (including migration info)

Wood Sandpipers breed in the subarctic wetlands across Europe and Asia, with a remarkable migratory journey to Africa, Southern Asia, and even as far as Australia. They are also regular visitors to places like the Mariana Islands and Palau in the Pacific. 

In the UK, Wood Sandpipers are primarily seen as passage migrants, although a few pairs breed in the Scottish Highlands. They prefer freshwater habitats during migration and winter.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Wood Sandpipers)

The Wood Sandpiper communicates with a distinctive, quickly repeated reedy whistle, especially noticeable in flight. This call is an essential identification tool, as these birds can be elusive and challenging to spot when foraging amongst tall vegetation in wetlands.

Fun Wood Sandpiper Facts (kid-friendly)

  • They migrate thousands of kilometres between their breeding and wintering grounds.
  • Wood Sandpipers lay four pale green eggs in ground nests.
  • They prefer shallow wetlands with emergent vegetation for refuelling during migration.
  • Adults and juveniles undergo a complete moult of their primary feathers, but at different times of the year.
  • Capable of flying non-stop for distances up to 4490 km!
  • The conservation of wetlands in Scotland aids in their survival and breeding.
  • The name ‘Tringa glareola’ has roots in ancient Greek, referring to a thrush-sized, tail-bobbing wading bird.

Facts About The Wood Sandpiper

Diet: Insects, worms, spiders, shellfish, small fish and small aquatic invertebrates.
Bird Family: Sandpipers, snipes and phalaropes
Length: 19-21cm
Wingspan: 36-40cm
Weight: 50-90g
Scientific Name: Tringa glareola

The Wood Sandpiper Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October