Calidris minutilla

Status:  Common regular spring and fall migrant statewide.

Documentation:  Specimen: UNSM ZM12672, 8 May 1890 Lancaster Co.

Taxonomy:  No subspecies are recognized.

Spring:  Mar 7, 8, 9 <<<>>> Jun 9, 10, 10

Migrants usually arrive in early to mid-Apr and peak migration occurs from the last week of Apr through the first two weeks of May. There are few reports after 25 May.

  • High counts: 950 in the eastern Rainwater Basin 7 May 2011, 500+ in Sarpy Co 5 May 2010, and 469 in the eastern Rainwater Basin 16-18 Apr 1997.

Fall:  Jun 22, 23, 23 <<<>>> Nov 23, 23, 27

Migration begins in late Jun (O’Brien et al 2006); earliest late Jun dates may be of one-year-old birds that did not complete migration, although successful females leave breeding grounds in late Jun (O’Brien et al 2016). There are several such records: two in Fillmore Co 13 Jun 2019, one in Clay Co 15 Jun 2109, 1-2 at Tamora WPA, Seward Co 17-24 Jun 2014, two in Dawson Co 18 Jun 2009, two in Lancaster Co 18 Jun 2009, 1-3 at Lake McConaughy, Keith Co 19-20 Jun 2004, and one at Harlan Co Reservoir, Harlan Co 20 Jun 2004.

Later dates are of two at Wagon Train Lake SRA, Lancaster Co 5 Dec 2016, Pawnee Lake, Lancaster Co 11 Dec 2005, one at Pawnee Lake 15 Dec 2001, and two at Lake McConaughy 17 Dec 1998 (Jorgensen 2001). The latter record has been cited incorrectly as 19 Dec (Silcock and Jorgensen 1999).

Adults arrive in early Jul. Juveniles follow and are present at least by mid-Aug; one was in Lancaster Co 10 Aug 2006. The species is widespread and easily found into the first half of Sep, although large flocks are uncommon.

A very pale juvenile was photographed at Schramm SP, Sarpy Co, 7 Sep 2008.

Taylor and Van Vleet (1888) mentioned that Baird collected two specimens 20 Aug at the “Loup Fork”, probably present-day Platte Co (Baird et al 1856).

  • High counts: 1518 at Lake McConaughy 13 Sep 2013, 899 there on 14 Sep 2007, and 400 at Lake Minatare, Scotts Bluff Co 21 Aug 2002.


SP: State Park
SRA: State Recreation Area
UNSM: University of Nebraska State Museum
WPA: Waterfowl Production Area (Federal)


Photograph (top) of a Least Sandpiper at Wehrspann Lake, Sarpy Co 9 May 2012 by Phil Swanson.

Literature Cited

Baird, S.F. J. Cassin, and G.N. Lawrence. 1856. Reports of explorations and surveys to ascertain the most practible [sic] and economic route for a railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean [etc].  Volume 9.  A.O.P. Nicholson, Washington D.C., USA.

Jorgensen, J.G. 2001. 1999 (Eleventh) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 69: 85-91.

O’Brien, M., R. Crossley, and K. Karlson. 2006. The Shorebird Guide. Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, New York, USA.

Silcock, W.R., and J.G. Jorgensen. 1999. Winter Field Report, Dec 1998 to Feb 1999. NBR 67: 2-16.

Taylor, W.E., and A.H. Van Vleet. 1888. Notes on Nebraska birds. Ornithologist and Oologist. 13: 69-72.

Recommended Citation

Silcock, W.R., and J.G. Jorgensen.  2020.  Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla). In Birds of Nebraska — Online. www.BirdsofNebraska.org

Birds of Nebraska – Online

Updated 28 Mar 2020