Purple Sandpiper
(Calidris maritima)


Picture of bird
© Myosotis Scorpioides at en.wikipedia - License
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The known breeding distribution of the Purple Sandpiper is patchy across the eastern Low Arctic and the High Arctic islands. Purple Sandpipers wintering on the Atlantic coast of Canada and the United States have shown little change in abundance relative to about 1970, according to results from the Christmas Bird Count (CBC). However, the fraction of the Canadian population wintering in North America, and monitored by the CBC, is unknown. Thus, the reliability of this assessment is considered low. Information from Maine suggests declines in the local population since 2004. 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 R2017 
Wild Species (Canada)Vulnerable2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLittle ChangeLowAt an Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada10,000 - 50,000 adults (includes birds breeding and migrating within Canada)

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population

Conservation and management

The potential connectivity between breeding and wintering populations, including migrations between Canada and Europe, is complex and remains somewhat unclear (Summers et al. 2014, LeBlanc et al. 2017). While wintering in both Europe and North America, the species uses rocky coastal habitats in areas of significant oil development (Smith and Bleakney 1969). An expanding industry to harvest rockweed in the Northeast United States may also degrade the foraging habitats of wintering birds (Payne and Pierce 2002). Recent surveys to quantify abundance and distribution throughout Atlantic North America (e.g., Mittelhauser et al. 2013, J. Paquet ECCC, unpublished data) should help to clarify any potential regional threats faced by Purple Sandpipers in winter.


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
Arctic Plains and MountainsArctic Plains and Mountains, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Other
Atlantic Northern ForestsAtlantic Northern Forests, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Other
Boreal Softwood ShieldBoreal Softwood Shield, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Other
Gulf of St. LawrenceGulf of St. Lawrence, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NL -- Other
Gulf of St. LawrenceGulf of St. Lawrence, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NS -- Conservation
Gulf of St. LawrenceGulf of St. Lawrence, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, PE -- Conservation
Newfoundland and Labrador Shelves Newfoundland and Labrador Shelves , sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NL -- Other
Scotian ShelfScotian Shelf, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NB -- Conservation
Scotian ShelfScotian Shelf, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NS -- Conservation