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Purple Sandpiper

Purple Sandpiper

The world's most northerly shorebird, with a distinctive sheen to its feathers

What you need to know about the Purple Sandpiper

Our Expert Says… "These lovely birds are easy to approach. In fact, quite often while waiting to board your Zodiac, you will see this bird happily come by feeding. It's the most northerly breeding shorebird in the world."

The purple sandpiper is known for being the most northerly shorebird, migrating to areas of arctic tundra to breed. Purple sandpipers can be seen on many of the Canadian arctic islands, the coasts of Greenland and Iceland, and arctic northern Europe.

Purple sandpipers have little fear of humans and therefore close encounters are common. Adults grow up to about 22cm (9”) in length with a wingspan of 43cm (17”). They have short yellow legs and a thin dark bill which is yellow at its base.

The bird gets its common name from the slight purple sheen it has to its mainly brown back feathers. The underparts are mainly white, with a grey breast.

You can often see purple sandpipers foraging for food on rocky beaches in small flocks, looking for insects, small mollusks, and other creatures that live between the waves and the high water debris line.

Studies in the early part of the 21st century showed that populations of purple sandpipers are in decline, but due to their range and current numbers they are classed for the moment as being of “least concern” in terms of endangered species.

Purple Sandpiper: Pictures & Videos

Purple Sandpiper

Spots where the Purple Sandpiper can be observed

Our trips to spot the Purple Sandpiper

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