Since most NA field guides only give a short blip about the Sharp-tailed 
Sandpiper being a vagrant to the US mostly found on the Pacific coast and 
casual inland that is similar to the Pectoral Sandpiper, I thought I would 
share a bit more information on this interesting bird.

Like many sandpiper species, the most intriguing thing about the Sharp-tailed 
Sandpiper is its incredible migration. The birds "winter" (austral summer) in 
Australia, New Zealand, and many South Pacific islands. They then migrate along 
the east Asian coast and fly overland to get to their Arctic Siberian breeding 
grounds. The adults head back south overland but a large number of juvenile 
birds are theorized to stage in Alaska. These juvenile birds then fly over the 
open Pacific Ocean to their "wintering" grounds. Thus, it is likely that the 
individual found in Carver county was born in Siberia after its parents had 
come all the way from the South Pacific. It traveled east to Alaska, got mixed 
up with some Pectoral Sandpipers and headed on their southward migration, 
perhaps eventually ending up in South America. Quite a journey for a bird that 
was just born over the summer.

Also, showing the flexible abilities of shorebirds, the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper 
prefers to stay inland in Australia during the winter if there are adequate 
rains. This provides energy savings by shortening their migratory journey to 
the southeastern Australian coast.

The Birdlife Australia website describes the Sharp-tailed as the most dinky-di 
of all shorebirds in Australia. Apparently, a well deserved compliment!

Jason Caddy


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