This bird looks similar to the widely sympatric Sharp-tailed Sandpiper which is not a member of the stint clade however. The Pectoral sandpiper is a largish calidrid (21 cm (8.3 in) in length, with a wingspan of 46 cm (18 in)) with a grey-brown back, brownest in the summer male, and greyest in winter. It has a grey breast, sharply demarcated at its lower edge. The legs are yellowish, and the bill is olive with a darker tip. The juveniles are more brightly patterned above with rufous colouration and white mantle stripes.

Habitat and Distribution

It is a very long-distance migrant, and about half of the species breeds in the boggy tundra of northeast Asia, the rest nesting in a range from Alaska to central Canada. The American and most of the Asian birds winter in South America, but some Asian breeders winter in southern and Australia and New Zealand. On migration and in winter, the Pectoral Sandpiper is typically found in freshwater habitats.


These birds forage on grasslands and mudflats, picking up food by sight, sometimes by probing. They mainly eat arthropods and other invertebrates.


The Pectoral sandpiper builds a steep-sided scrape nest with a considerable volume of lining material. The nest is deep enough that the eggs sit about 3 cm (1.2 in) below ground level, which helps to minimize heat loss from the cool breezes which occur at the latitudes where the species nests. The female lays four eggs.