Stilt Sandpiper
(Calidris himantopus)


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

Stilt Sandpipers breed in moist tundra of subarctic and Low Arctic North America. Some individuals winter in coastal areas as far north as South Carolina, but the majority winter in the grasslands of interior South America. Surveys during fall migration suggest a moderate decrease in the abundance of Stilt Sandpipers relative to about 1970. With a large percentage 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 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2015 
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
Canada500,000 - 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 in mid-July, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.

Conservation and management

The breeding range of the Stilt 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). The apparent decreases in the abundance of Stilt Sandpipers in Canada could be partially a consequence of over-abundant geese and degraded habitats in the Canadian portion of their range, but loss and/or degradation of wintering and staging habitats could also be a factor. Recent work on this topic will hopefully clarify whether geese are having population-level impacts on shorebirds, or if the negative impacts being reported are only occurring locally around goose colonies.


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
Prairie PotholesPrairie Potholes, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Other