You are likely to see a large flock of Western Sandpipers foraging of flooded agricultural fields in Delta. In fact, in North America, this bird is one of the most abundant shorebirds. This small sandpiper overwinters in the lower mainland and breeds along the far northwest coast of Alaska. During migration they can be spotted in gigantic flocks flitting along coastal waters.
Western Sandpipers have a short neck, a whitish chest with slight mottling, a grey back, and black legs. They use their medium-sized dark bills to probe wetlands, beaches, and farm fields in search of insects. While striding along a shoreline, this sandpiper is rather front-heavy, and looks as though it could almost tip forward at any minute.
Photo by Bill Boulton
Look for a black spot on the rump of this bird as an extra indicator for identification, as they are sure to be confused with other similar sandpiper species, such as the Semipalmated Sandpiper which has a slightly darker breast and a more defined white eye-ring. Western Sandpipers deliver a high-pitched “cheet” accompanied with little squeaks and trills, and some quiet scratchy noises.