Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Identification of Adult "Long-winged" Peeps

Adult peeps can be relatively easy to identify during some parts of the year, while at others they can be one of the bigger identification challenges to birders.  Since most birders rely on plumage differences to identify birds, the adult peeps in breeding plumage are the easiest to identify.  While in nonbreeding plumage the peeps can look quite similar and structure is the best way to differentiate between species.

Breeding and Nonbreeding Long-winged Peeps

Baird's Sandpiper

In breeding and nonbreeding plumage, the Baird's Sandpiper has an overall buffy tone (especially in the face and throat) that is not alike any other shorebirds.  For some birders the black loral spot is the most noticeable feature on this species.  This mark can be shown by other species however, so it shouldn't be the sole identifying factor.  The loral spot is the most bold on the Baird's though.  The short, straight black bill is a differentiating factor from the White-rumped.  Also, notice the clean white sides on the Baird's, on the White-rumped there is streaking.

Molting adult Baird's Sandpiper:  notice the buffy wash on the face, throat, and chest, bold black spotting on the
scapulars and coverts, straight black bill, and long wings

Adult nonbreeding Baird's Sandpiper:  notice the black loral spot, buffy wash through
the head, chest, and throat, gray back, and long wings.

To see the photographer's photostream go to: 

White-rumped Sandpiper

Breeding plumaged White-rumped Sandpipers are quite distinct in breeding plumage if you are afforded a good view.  The easiest field mark to notice is the orange base to the bill but it is not bright on some individuals so can be difficult to see.  Breeding plumaged White-rumped also show reddish/orange marking throughout the scapulars, mantle, auriculars, and crown.  Another important field mark to notice is the streaking down the sides.  No other peep shows this much streaking on the sides.  

White-rumped Sandpiper - Calidris fuscicollis - Vaðlatíta
Breeding White-rumped Sandpiper:  Notice the reddish markings through the scapulars,
mantle, crown and auriculars, streaking on the sides, and orange-based bill

To see the photographer's photostream go to: 

Nonbreeding White-rumped Sandpipers are very gray overall compared to the brownish wash of the Baird's Sandpiper.  In nonbreeding plumage the most important aspects are the orange-based bill, fairly distinct white supercilium, and streaking down the flanks.  

Maçarico-de-sobre-branco (Calidris fuscicollis)
Adult nonbreeding White-rumped Sandpiper:  Notice the white supercilium, streaking
down the flanks, orange-based bill, long wings, and overall gray plumage

To see the photographer's photostream go to: 
To see our top 5 rated shorebird field guides go to:

To see how to differentiate the long-winged vs. short-winged peeps go to:


1 comment:

Dan Huber said...

another great helpful post on peeps. Love these. Thanks