Pectoral Sandpiper
(Calidris melanotos)


Picture of bird
© Charles M. Francis, CWS
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

Pectoral Sandpipers breed throughout the circumpolar Arctic. In Canada, they are found in wetlands of the Low to Mid Arctic. Migration monitoring surveys suggest a moderate decrease in the abundance of Pectoral Sandpipers relative to about 1970. Few data are available from the breeding grounds, so the true status of the Canadian population is uncertain. With more than 80% of the global breeding population, Canada's responsibility for the species is very high. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Partners in Flight (North America)Watch list - yellow D2017 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2015 
State of North America’s BirdsWatch list2016 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaModerate DecreaseLowBelow Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada> 1,000,000 adults (includes birds breeding and migrating within Canada)

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Long-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaVery High

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between late May and early June and ends between mid-July and late July, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.

Conservation and management

The Canadian breeding range of the Pectoral Sandpiper overlaps with that of several populations of over-abundant arctic geese. Geese can degrade tundra habitats by grazing on grasses, sedges, and their rhizomes (Alisauskas et al. 2006); this modified habitat often supports lower densities of shorebirds (e.g., Sammler et al. 2008, Hines et al. 2010). This could be a contributing factor to the apparent decreases in abundance of the Pectoral Sandpiper. However, in winter, this species, as well as several other shorebird species, rely heavily on the moist grassland habitats of South America. These grasslands have long been used for grazing livestock, but economic conditions are increasingly favouring their conversion to croplands, which are less suitable for wintering shorebirds (Isacch and Martínez 2003). Efforts to preserve migratory staging areas and critical stopover sites will be beneficial (Farmer et al. 2013).


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Taiga Shield and Hudson PlainsTaiga Shield and Hudson Plains, sub-region and priority type: Ontario -- Conservation