Rock Sandpiper
(Calidris ptilocnemis)


Picture of bird
© Jukka Jantunen (
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

Rock Sandpipers are a truly Beringian species, with at least four recognized subspecies breeding in Alaska and Russia. The predominant subspecies to visit Canadian coastlines on migration, C. p. tschuktschorum, both breeds furthest north and winters furthest south, taking annual round trips of up to 9,000 km between the breeding grounds in Russia and wintering grounds along the North Pacific coast to northern California. Survey data are insufficient to reliably determine a change in the Canadian population status for this uncommon winter visitor. 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 
Wild Species (Canada)Apparently secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaData DeficientData DeficientData Deficient

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
CanadaNot yet available

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Seasonal visitor

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaTo be determined

Conservation and management

Due to their highly restricted breeding range in Alaska and Russia, Rock Sandpipers are inherently vulnerable to perturbations at nesting sites. During the non-breeding period, they predominately use intertidal habitats. Rock Sandpipers are one of the most vulnerable species to oil spills, due to their habitat preferences and tendency to form large flocks (Gill et al. 2002). The unknown effects of introduced mammals (e.g., reindeer, cattle, foxes, and rats) are also a potential threat (Gill et al. 2002).


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
Northern Pacific RainforestNorthern Pacific Rainforest, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Stewardship