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Sandpipers: Scolopacidae

Physical Characteristics

Sandpipers vary a great deal in size, from 4.7 to 26 inches (12 to 66 centimeters) in length and from 0.5 to 48 ounces (14.5 to 1,360 grams) in weight. Bill size and shape also vary a lot in the group, depending largely on the type of food eaten. Different sandpiper species have long or short bills, straight bills, upwardly curved bills, or downwardly curved bills. There are also more unusual bills, such as wedge-shaped bills and spoon-shaped bills, in the family. Some sandpipers have slender bodies, while others have plump bodies. Most species have short tails, long necks, long legs, and partially webbed toes. The wings tend to be long. Many sandpipers are colored to blend into their environments, although some species develop brighter black or reddish-colored patches during the breeding season. In many sandpipers, females and males are fairly similar in appearance. However, there are exceptions. In the ruff, for example, the male is 25 percent larger than the female and also has special feathers around the head and neck during the breeding season. Young sandpipers are generally colored to blend into their habitats.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsSandpipers: Scolopacidae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Sandpipers And People, Conservation Status - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE