Population status

Purple Sandpiper
(Calidris maritima)

The breeding distribution and wintering locations for Purple Sandpipers are poorly understood. Individuals breeding in the High Arctic may winter along ice free coasts of Europe, while those breeding in the Low Arctic are assumed to winter primarily along the Atlantic coast of Canada and the United States (Summers et al. 2014, Morrison 1984). This latter group is surveyed by the Christmas Bird Count (CBC). However, most Purple Sandpipers winter offshore and only a fraction of the population is surveyed by this method. CBC results for North America suggest little change in the population relative to about 1970, but because the fraction of the Canadian population monitored is unknown and because of the poor precision of the results, the reliability of these results as a means to determine the status of Purple Sandpiper in Canada was assessed as low. However, recent information from Maine suggests a 49% decline in the Purple Sandpiper population since 2004; the species is considered a priority for conservation (Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife 2015). Because Purple Sandpipers from the Gulf of Maine and outer Bay of Fundy are part of the same geographic population, declines in Maine may be reflected north of the border.


Picture of logo Christmas Bird Count (CBC)

Additional information on: Christmas Bird Count (CBC)

Table 1: Population trends by geographic area
Geographic areaTime PeriodAnnual trend Table 1 - footnote 1 Limits
North America1965-20120.3-1.82.5