Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

Spotted sandpiper
Actitis macularia

 

Taxonomy
Occurence in Illinois
Status
Habitat associations
Guilds
Food-habits
Environmental associations
Life history
Management practices
References


TAXONOMY

 

  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Charadriiformes
  • Family: Scolopacidae
  • Genus: Actitis
  • Species: Actitis macularia
  • Authority: Linnaeus

Comments on taxonomy:
Other names: gutter snipe; peep; peet-weet; river snipe; sand lark; sand peep; sand snipe; seesaw; teeterer; teeter peep; teeter tail; tilt-up; tip-up *03*.

 


OCCURENCE IN ILLINOIS

Common migrant; common summer resident in north; uncommon summer resident in central. A rare summer resident in south *02*.

 


STATUS

Items in bold indicate applicable categories
Forest Service Categories: S = recommended for regional sensitive status, F = forest listed species, M = management indicator species

Federal Status:

Endangered Threatened Proposed for listing
Candidate for proposal Recovery plan approved Recovery plan received (USFWS)
Recovery plan in preparation Under notice of review Delisted
Migratory EPA indicator Forest Serv.- Shawnee species

State Status:

Endangered Threatened Proposed

Other:

Game Furbearer Nongame protected
Sportfish Commercial Pest None of the above

Comments on status:
The spotted sandpiper is protected by the Illinois Wildlife Code of 1971 *05* and by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 *06*.

 


HABITAT ASSOCIATIONS

Items in bold indicate applicable categories

General habitat:

Unknown Terrestrial Aquatic Riparian

USFS timber inventory forest size class:

Unknown Unstocked Seedling Sapling
Seedling/sapling Pole Mature Over mature

Land use and land cover:

Unknown   Urban Residential
Commercial
Industrial
Transportation, communication
Complex industrial/commercial
Mixed
Other
Agricultural Crop, pasture
Orchards, groves, nurseries
Feedlot
Other
Rangeland Herbaceous
Shrub and brush
Mixed
Forestland Deciduous
Evergreen
Mixed
Water Stream
Lake
Reservoir
Bay
Wetland Forest
Non-forest
Barren Salt flat
Beach
Sand
Rock
Mine
Transit
Mix

Forest cover types: No records.

Associated tree species: No records.

 

National wetland inventory classifications:

SystemSubsystemClassSubclassWater regime modifiersWater chemistry
Lacustrine Limnetic Unknown Unknown Unknown/unspecified Unknown/unspecified
Lacustrine Littoral Unknown Unknown Unknown/unspecified Unknown/unspecified
Palustrine   Flat   Unknown/unspecified Unknown/unspecified
Riverine Lower perennial Beach/bar   Unknown/unspecified Unknown/unspecified
Riverine Lower perennial Flat   Unknown/unspecified Unknown/unspecified
Riverine Lower perennial Rocky shore   Unknown/unspecified Unknown/unspecified

 

Comments on species-habitat associations:
Lines along shores of fresh waters: lakes, ponds, streams. also, feeds in meadows, fields, cultivated land *03*.

Important plant and animal association: No comments.

High value habitats

HabitatStructural stageSeason
Prairie Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All
Wetland Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All
Marsh Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All
Lakes and ponds Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All
Impoundment Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All
Streams Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All
River Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All
Lake shore Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All
Beach Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All
Agricultural field Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All
Successional field Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All

Species-habitat interrelations: Species occurs in a wide array of habitats ranging from sea level to mountains; seems to require only open terrain with temporary pools, lakes, streams, rivers, marshes, or impoundments *11*. May be found feeding along beaches and muddy shores of creeks, and inlets, along beaches and muddy shores of creeks, and inlets, along sandy ponds, sluggish meadow streams, mountain torrents; in farm areas in meadows, fields and gardens *03*. Nest usually near to water *11,13*.

 


GUILDS

Feed-guilding:

HabitatStructural stageSeasonFeed-guilds
Agricultural field Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All Terrestrial subsurface- arthropods
Terrestrial surface- arthropods
Shrub strata- arthropods
Air- arthropods
Terrestrial subsurface- invertebrates other than arthropods
Terrestrial surface- invertebrates other than arthropods
Successional field Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All Terrestrial subsurface- arthropods
Terrestrial surface- arthropods
Shrub strata- arthropods
Air- arthropods
Terrestrial subsurface- invertebrates other than arthropods
Terrestrial surface- invertebrates other than arthropods
Prairie Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All Terrestrial subsurface- arthropods
Terrestrial surface- arthropods
Shrub strata- arthropods
Air- arthropods
Terrestrial subsurface- invertebrates other than arthropods
Terrestrial surface- invertebrates other than arthropods
Lakes and ponds Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All Water column- arthropods
Water surface- arthropods
Water column- invertebrates other than zooplankton or arthropods
Water surface- invertebrates other than zooplankton or arthropods
Water column- fish
Water surface- fish
Terrestrial subsurface- arthropods
Terrestrial surface- arthropods
Shrub strata- arthropods
Air- arthropods
Terrestrial subsurface- invertebrates other than arthropods
Terrestrial surface- invertebrates other than arthropods
Streams Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All Water column- arthropods
Water surface- arthropods
Water column- invertebrates other than zooplankton or arthropods
Water surface- invertebrates other than zooplankton or arthropods
Water column- fish
Water surface- fish
Terrestrial subsurface- arthropods
Terrestrial surface- arthropods
Shrub strata- arthropods
Air- arthropods
Terrestrial subsurface- invertebrates other than arthropods
Terrestrial surface- invertebrates other than arthropods
Lake shore Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All Water column- arthropods
Water surface- arthropods
Water column- invertebrates other than zooplankton or arthropods
Water surface- invertebrates other than zooplankton or arthropods
Water column- fish
Water surface- fish
Terrestrial subsurface- arthropods
Terrestrial surface- arthropods
Shrub strata- arthropods
Air- arthropods
Terrestrial subsurface- invertebrates other than arthropods
Terrestrial surface- invertebrates other than arthropods
Impoundment Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
All Water column- arthropods
Water surface- arthropods
Water column- invertebrates other than zooplankton or arthropods
Water surface- invertebrates other than zooplankton or arthropods
Water column- fish
Water surface- fish
Terrestrial subsurface- arthropods
Terrestrial surface- arthropods
Shrub strata- arthropods
Air- arthropods
Terrestrial subsurface- invertebrates other than arthropods
Terrestrial surface- invertebrates other than arthropods

Comments on feed-guilding:
Feeds primarily on terrestrial and aquatic insects *11,13*. Searches for food by probing along beaches, muddy shores; often wades into water. In farm country feeds in meadows, fields, gardens. May catch flying insects out of air, or stalk and snap up in bill. Also catches young fish and crustaceans in shallow water *03,09,11*.

Breed-guilding:

HabitatStructural stageSeasonBreed-Guilds
Wetland Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
Spring/summer Terrestrial surface
Terrestrial surface, marshy areas with hydrophytes but not hydric soils
Terrestrial surface, grass and grasslike vegetation
Terrestrial surface, forb vegetation
Terrestrial surface, supine or dwarf woody vegetation
Terrestrial surface, woody litter
Surface of water column-river/lake/marsh, consolidated bedrock substrate
Surface of water column-river/lake/marsh, consolidated boulder substrate
Surface of water column-river/lake/marsh, consolidated rubble substrate
Surface of water column-river/lake/marsh, unconsolidated organic substrate
Surface of water column-river/lake/marsh, unconsolidated rooted herbaceous plants
Surface of water column-river/lake/marsh, unconsolidated rooted woody plants
Agricultural field Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
Spring/summer Terrestrial surface
Terrestrial surface, marshy areas with hydrophytes but not hydric soils
Terrestrial surface, grass and grasslike vegetation
Terrestrial surface, forb vegetation
Terrestrial surface, supine or dwarf woody vegetation
Terrestrial surface, woody litter
Lake shore Not applicable
(HVAL-HAB cover)
Spring/summer Terrestrial surface
Terrestrial surface, marshy areas with hydrophytes but not hydric soils
Terrestrial surface, grass and grasslike vegetation
Terrestrial surface, forb vegetation
Terrestrial surface, supine or dwarf woody vegetation
Terrestrial surface, woody litter
Surface of water column-river/lake/marsh, consolidated bedrock substrate
Surface of water column-river/lake/marsh, consolidated boulder substrate
Surface of water column-river/lake/marsh, consolidated rubble substrate
Surface of water column-river/lake/marsh, unconsolidated organic substrate
Surface of water column-river/lake/marsh, unconsolidated rooted herbaceous plants
Surface of water column-river/lake/marsh, unconsolidated rooted woody plants

Comments on breed-guilding:
Nest along water, in grassland near to water *03,11*. Nest placed in depression in ground lined with grasses, weeds, mosses. May be placed on island, in thick sedges; under a bush, log, rocks; driftwood *03,11,12*.

 


FOOD-HABITS

Trophic level is CARNIVORE

Food itemLife stage/plant part
Annelida (segmented worms) Adult
Mollusca Unknown
Arachnida (spiders, ticks, scorpions, daddy longlegs) Unknown
Crustaceans Unknown
Malacostraca (isopods, amphipods, crayfishes) Unknown
Insecta Juvenile
Insecta Adult
Ephemeroptera (mayflies) Unknown
Orthoptera (grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches) Adult
Mallophaga (chewing lice) Adult
Homoptera (cicadas, aphids) Adult
Coleoptera (beetles) Larva
Coleoptera (beetles) Adult
Lepidoptera (butterflies, moths) Larva
Diptera (flies, midges, mosquitoes) Larva
Diptera (flies, midges, mosquitoes) Pupa
Diptera (flies, midges, mosquitoes) Adult
Salmoniformes (trouts, salmons, smelts, pikes) Juvenile

Comments on food habits: 
General: Eats a wide variety of aquatic and terrestrial insects; eats many grasshoppers, crickets, cutworms, cabbage worms, beetles, army worms, grubs, caterpillars, and other insects of cultivated land; occasionally eats small fish such as trout, also small crabs and gastropod mollusks *11,13*.
Juvenile: No comments.
Adult: See [FH].


ENVIRONMENTAL ASSOCIATIONS

General:

  • Substrate: rocks
  • Substrate: organic debris
  • Water level: seasonally flooded
  • Water depth preference: < 1 ft.
  • Aquatic habitats: freshwater marsh
  • Aquatic habitats: sandy beaches
  • Aquatic habitats: mud flats
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: seasonal wet depressions
  • Aquatic habitats: pool areas
  • Ecotones: old field/water
  • Ecotones: crop field/water
  • Ecotones: grassland/water
  • Ecotones: coniferous trees/deciduous trees
  • Pastures: see comments
  • Grassland: see comments
  • Meadows: see comments
  • Old fields: see comments
  • Vegetation successional stage: abandoned fields
  • Vegetation successional stage: sand dune
  • Vegetation successional stage: climax grassland
  • Unknown

Egg

  • Unknown

Feeding juvenile:

  • Water level: seasonally flooded
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments
  • Aquatic habitats: seasonal wet depressions
  • Pastures: see comments
  • Meadows: see comments

Resting juvenile:

  • Pastures: see comments
  • Meadows: see comments

Feeding adult:

  • Water depth preference: < 1 ft.
  • Aquatic habitats: see comments
  • Ecotones: old field/water
  • Ecotones: crop field/water
  • Ecotones: grassland/water

Resting adult:

  • Substrate: rocks
  • Substrate: organic debris
  • Aquatic habitats: mud flats

Breeding adult:

  • Substrate: rocks
  • Substrate: organic debris
  • Ecotones: old field/water
  • Ecotones: crop field/water
  • Ecotones: grassland/water
  • Pastures: see comments
  • Grassland: see comments
  • Meadows: see comments
  • Old fields: see comments

Comments on environmental associations:
General: Species is found in a wide variety of habitats; seems to require only open terrain within reach of pools, ponds, lakes, rivers or impoundments; where it forages for food; commonly winters along the seashores, where it forages both on beaches and along the muddy edges of creeks and inlets *11*.
Feeding juvenile: Young feed in hilly pastures, in wet meadows, along exposed lakes, ponds or stream borders *08*.
Resting juvenile: Young rest in pastures adjacent to waterways. Young rest in meadows adjacent to waterways *08*.
Feeding adult: Feeds along beaches, muddy borders of marshes and inlets, margins of sandy ponds, streams, rushing mountain streams *11,13*. Also in fields and cultivated land *03,11*.
Resting adult: Species roosts on stumps, stranded logs, rocks, or any slight eminence giving clear view to all approaches *17*. Also uses muddy creek banks, sloughbanks and higher mudflats *14*.
Breeding adult: Breed in fields, near water. May conceal nest in vegetation, rocks, logs *03,11*.


LIFE HISTORY

Physical description: Breeding adults of both sexes have a gray-brown crown streaked with dusky, white stripe above; while lower eye lid and side of face are streaked borwn; shin, throat and underparts are white with black spots; underparts are gray-brown with black marks as tranverse bars, arrowheads, or lines; tail is bronzy gray with feathers tipped with white; flight feathers are brownish with inner primaries having increasing amounts of white on the inner webs and secondaries are white at tips and at base; iris is brown and the bill is black at the tip and yellow at the base; legs are pale gray- olive; in winter adults are plain gray above with a metallic gloss and dark barring on wing coverts; underparts are white with brown- gray cast across the chest; females usually are slightly larger with more spotting *11*.

Reproduction: Usually monogamous but some polyandry takes place; males become attached to nests while female defends areas with a number of nests; female is dominant and will display by flying up and gliding down to land, spreads tail and raises head with wings drooped calling throughout the display; the nest is built in grass, ledge of rocks, under logs some distance from water usually in colonies, nest prospecting done by pair sometimes the same day the pair bond is formed; the nest is built with grasses and weeds; first egg maybe laid as early as 3 days after male arrives; replacement clutches are initiated about 5 days after predation or desertion with eggs laid daily; clutch size is usually 4, buff colored eggs spotted with brown and are 32x23 mm in size; females aggressiveness and sexual activity increases after laying of 3rd egg; incubation ranges from 20-24 days with the male generally brooding the young; fledging takes place 17-18 days after hatching *11,12,13*.

Behavior: Species is easily recognized by its 'teetering' behavior and also its distinctive mode of flight; wingstrokes are down curved with frequent vibration; feeding is done using rapid pecking movements as well as a slow approach followed by a quick forward thrust of the head; swimming and diving abilities are highly developed; migrates at night returning north in April through June *11*.

 


MANAGEMENT PRACTICES

Beneficial:

  • Maintaining undisturbed/undeveloped areas
  • Maintaining early stage of ecological succession
  • Maintaining unique or special habitat features (wetlands, snags, caves, cliffs, talises, etc.)
  • Controlling land use and human activities
  • Controlling sedimentation
  • Creating impoundments
  • Developing/maintaining riparian habitat
  • Developing/maintaining streamside vegetation to prevent erosion and provide riparian habitat
  • Protecting streambanks (gabion matting or riprap)
  • Developing/maintaining water holes, ponds, potholes, etc.
  • Restricting human disturbance during migration, breeding, and nesting

Adverse:

  • Channelization
  • Navigational improvements such as channelization and locks and dams
  • Draining ponds/lakes
  • Draining wetlands
  • Clean farming
  • Application of pesticides
  • Application of insecticides

Comments on management practices:
Controlling water levels is beneficial *18,19*. In seasonally flooded impoundments, desirable habitat = shallow (0-5 cm) water interspersed with exposed, saturated soil *18*. Disking an area before flooding it retards succession and helps create ridges which remain exposed after flooding *18*. Water accumulated in an impoundment can be drawn down to continually expose new mudflats *18,19*. Drawdowns of 2-3 cm per week are more effective than rapid drawdowns *18*. When an impoundment is flooded, some areas should be too deep for immediate use to allow for drawdowns, evaporation, and drought, and some areas should be left dry to allow for precipitation or flooding. Within a group of impoundments, it may be beneficial to rotate use between shorebirds, rails and waterfowl *18*. In southeast Mo. habitat manipulations for migratory shorebirds in spring should be underway when eastern cottonwood and red maple reach peak blooming. For early summer shorebirds, habitat manipulation can begin with the last flowering of indigobush amorpha, or onset of blooming by lippia or Hydrolea uniflora. For late fall shorebirds, mudflat exposure should coincide with the final blossoms of buttonweek and peak blooming for goldenrod and aster *19*.

 


REFERENCES

0. VIRGINIA. GOLDBECK, J.B. 1400 A TERRACE VIEW. REED, S. 101 CHEATHAM HALL. VA. TECH. BLACKSBURG, VA. 24060.

1. MISSOURI DEPT. CONSERVATION.

2. BOHLEN, H. 1978. AN ANNOTATED CHECK-LIST OF THE BIRDS OF ILLINOIS. ILLINOIS STATE MUS. POP. SCI. SER., VOL. IX. 156 P.

3. TERRES, J.K. 1980. AUDUBON SOCIETY ENCYCLOPEDIA OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS. A.A. KNOPF. NY, NY. 1109 PP.

4. AMERICAN ORNITHOLOGISTS' UNION. 1984. CHECK-LIST OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS. 6TH EDITION. ALLEN PRESS, INC. LAWRENCE, KS. 877 P.

5. ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION. 1980. CONSERVATION LAWS. CH. 61. WILDLIFE. ART. II. PAR. 2.2. REPRINTED FROM ILLINOIS REVISED STATUTES, 1979. WEST PUBL. CO., ST. PAUL, MN. 123 PP.

6. U.S. FISH WILDLIFE SERVICE. 1983. CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS. TITLE 50. WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES. CHAPTER 1. PP. 11-18. 50 CFR 10.13. LIST OF MIGRATORY BIRDS. SPECIAL PUBL. FEDERAL REGISTER. GENERAL SERVICES ADMIN. OCTOBER 1.

7. IMHOF, T.A. 1976. ALABAMA BIRDS. 2ND ED. UNIV. ALABAMA PRESS.

8. TODD, W.E.C. 1940. BIRDS OF WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA. UNIV. PITTSBURG PRESS, PITTSBURGH, PENN.

9. BENT, A.C. 1929. LIFE HISTORIES OF NORTH AMERICAN SHOREBIRDS. (PART 2). U.S. NATIONAL MUSEUM BULLETIN 146. 412 PP.

10. JOB, HERBERT KEIGHTLEY. 1911. THE SPOTTED SANDPIPER. BIRD-LORE, VOL. 13, PP 221-224.

11. JOHNSGARD, P.A. 1981. THE PLOVERS, SANDPIPERS, AND SNIPES OF THE WORLD. UNIV. NEBRASKA PRESS, LINCOLN.

12. SOOTHILL, E., AND R. SOOTHILL. 1982. WADING BIRDS OF THE WORLD. BLANDFORD PRESS, PUOLE AND DORSET, ENGLAND.

13. TERRES, J.K. 1982. AUDUBON SOCIETY ENCYCLOPEDIA OF NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS. ALFRED A. KNOPF, N.Y.

14. UNPB. SMITH, JOHN. MO DEPT. CONSERVATION. 1110 COLLEGE AVE. COLUMBIA, MO. 65201 (314)449-3761.

15. UNPB.FREDRICKSON, L.H. UNIV. OF MO. GAYLORD RESEARCH LAB. PUXICO, MO. 63960 (314)222-3203

16. JEWELL, H.W. 1909. FEEDING HABITS OF THE SANDPIPER. THE JOURNAL OF ME. ORNITHOLOGICAL SOCIETY, VOL.11.

17. STOUT, GARDNER D. 1967. THE SHOREBIRDS OF NORTH AMERICA. THE VIKING PRESS. NEW YORK, N.Y. 270 PP.

18. RUNDLE, W. DEAN & LEIGH H. FREDRICKSON. 1981. MANAGING SEASONALLY FLOODED IMPOUNDMENTS FOR MIGRANT RAILS & SHOREBIRDS. THE WILDLIFE SOCIETY BULLETIN. VOL. 9, NO. 2. 80-87.

19. RUNDLE, WILLIAM DEAN. 1980. MANAGEMENT & ECOLOGY OF RAILS & SHOREBIRDS, M.S. THESIS. UNIV. MO. COLUMBIA, MO. 228 PP.

20. NELSON, T. 1930. GROWTH RATE OF THE SPOTTED SANDPIPER CHICK WITH NOTES ON NESTING HABITS. BIRD BANDING 1(1):1-13.

21. PRESTON, F.W. 1951. EGG-LAYING, INCUBATION & FLEDGING PERIODS OF THE SPOTTED SANDPIPERS. WILSON BULLETIN VOL. 63 NO. 1 PP 43-44.

22. MOUSLEY, HENRY. 1937. THE NESTING HABITS OF THE SPOTTED SANDPIPER. THE AUK. VOL. 54.

23. ROBERT, J. & JEAN T. MILLER. 1948. NESTING OF THE SPOTTED SANDPIPER AT DETROIT, MI. THE AUK. VOL. 65.

 


 

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