Thai National Parks

Birds of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Sharp-tailed sandpiper

In Thai: นกชายเลนกระหม่อมแดง, nok chai-len kra-mom daeng

Binomial name: Calidris acuminata, Thomas Horsfield, 1821

The sharp-tailed sandpiper (Calidris acuminata) (but see below) is a small wader.

Taxonomy

More recently, a review of new data has indicated that this bird should perhaps better be placed into the genus Philomachus

– as P. acuminatus – which now contains only the ruff but if the sharp-tailed sandpiper is merged into it would need to accommodate the broad-billed sandpiper also (Thomas et al., 2004).

While the latter certainly is a most peculiar calidrid, the sharp-tailed sandpiper is much more similar to other Calidris/Erolia species such as the pectoral sandpiper. On the one hand, its larger size and long-legged stance, and the breast pattern which gradually fades away on the belly as in the ruff instead of having a fairly sharp border as in the Calidris/Erolia stints indicate that placement in Philomachus may be correct. Still, it is just as possible that – given the fairly common instances of hybridization in calidrines – mitochondrial DNA data has given a false picture of this species' true affinities. The curlew sandpiper, which is a proposed parent of the hybrid called "Cooper's sandpiper" ("Calidris" × cooperi) together with the sharp-tailed sandpiper, is another unusual calidrid that is hard to place systematically.

Distribution and habitat

It breeds in the boggy tundra of northeast Asia and is strongly migratory, wintering in south east Asia and Australasia. It occurs as a rare autumn migrant to North America, but in western Europe only as a very rare vagrant.

Description

Breeding adults are a rich brown with darker feather centres above, and white underneath apart from a buff breast. They have a light superciliary line above the eye and a chestnut crown. In winter, sharp-tailed sandpipers are grey above. The juveniles are brightly patterned above with rufous colouration and white mantle stripes.

This bird looks a lot like the pectoral sandpiper, within whose Asian range it breeds. It differs from that species in its breast pattern, stronger supercilium and more rufous crown. It has some similarities to the long-toed stint, but is much larger than that tiny stint.

Breeding

Little is known of the breeding habits of this species, although it nests on the ground, and the male has a display flight.

Feeding

These birds forage on grasslands and mudflats, like the pectoral sandpiper, picking up food by sight, sometimes by probing. They mainly eat insects and other invertebrates.

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Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Charadriiformes
Family
Scolopacidae
Genus
Calidris
Species
Calidris acuminata

Common names

  • English: Sharp-tailed sandpiper
  • French: Bécasseau à queue pointue
  • Thai: นกชายเลนกระหม่อมแดง, nok chai-len kra-mom daeng

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Range Map

Distribution map of Sharp-tailed sandpiper, Calidris acuminata in Thailand
Range map of Calidris acuminata in Thailand