Fiji Birds: Sandpipers and Allies

FJ
Wandering Tattler

Scolopacidae (skuh-loh-puh-suh-die) is a large diverse family of small to medium-sized shorebirds including the sandpipers, curlews, godwits, shanks, tattlers, woodcocks, snipes, dowitchers and phalaropes. The majority of these species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil.

Fun Fact 1: Variation in length of legs and bills enables multiple species to feed in the same habitat, particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food. Order: Charadriiformes – Family: Scolopacidae

Bristle Thighed CurlewwhimbrelFAR EASTERN CURLEW.
BRISTLE THIGHED CURLEW.WHIMBRELFAR EASTERN CURLEW
Bar tailed Godwit FIJILimosa haemastica fIJIRuddy turnstone
BAR-TAILED GODWITHUDSONIAN GODWITRUDDY TURNSTONE
Red KnotRuffSharp Tailed Sandpiper
RED KNOTRUFFSHARP-TAILED SANDPIPER
Curlew SandpiperRed necked StintCalidris alba Laem Phak Bia
CURLEW SANDPIPERRED-NECKED STINTSANDERLING
Pectoral SandpiperXenus cinereus AlnusCommon Sandpiper
PECTORAL SANDPIPERTEREK SANDPIPERCOMMON SANDPIPER
SolitarysandpiperGray Tailed TtlerWandering Tattler
SOLITARY SANDPIPERGRAY-TAILED TTLERWANDERING TATTLER
Lesser YellowlegsNo Image Thumbnail
LESSER YELLOWLEGSVITI LEVU SNIPE
Table: Sandpipers and allies in Fiji

Name: Bristle Thighed Curlew

Bristle Thighed CurlewCommon Name: Bristle Thighed Curlew
Scientific Name: Numenius tahitiensis
Type: Migrant 
Table: General details. Image Supplied: Bryan Harry. (2005).

Synopsis: Bristle Thighed Curlew

The bristle-thighed curlew has a long, decurved bill and bristled feathers at the base of the legs. Its length is about 40–44 cm and wingspan about 84 cm (females averaging bigger than males). The size and shape are the same as the whimbrel’s, and the plumage is similar, spotted brown on their upper body with a light belly and rust-colored or buffy tail. The bigger buff spots on the upper body, unmarked light belly and barely marked flanks, tail color, and pale buffy-orange rump distinguish it from the whimbrel. Recorded Sightings:  Viti Levu – Vanua Levu – Taveuni – Kadavu – Lomaiviti – Lau – Rotuma

Video: Bristle Thighed Curlew

Audio: Bristle Thighed Curlew

Bristle-thighed-Curlew-Numenius-tahitiensis.
Image: Fiji Postage Stamp of Bristle thighed Curlew Numenius tahitiensis.

Name: Whimbrel

whimbrelCommon Name: Whimbrel
Scientific Name: Numenius phaeopus
Type: Migrant
Table: General details. Image Supplied: Ondrejprosicky.

Synopsis: Whimbrel

The Whimbrel is mainly greyish brown, with a white back and rump, and a long-curved beak with a kink rather than a smooth curve. Recorded Sightings: Viti Levu – Vanua Levu – Taveuni – Kadavu – Lomaiviti – Lau – Rotuma.

Video: Whimbrel

Audio: Whimbrel

Name: Far Eastern Curlew

FAR EASTERN CURLEWCommon Name: Far Eastern Curlew
Scientific Name: Numenius madagascariensis
Type: Vagrant
Table: General details. Image Supplied: JJ Harrison (2019)

Synopsis: Far Eastern Curlew

The Far Eastern curlew, also known as Numenius madagascariensis, presents itself as a sizable shorebird, bearing a resemblance to the long-billed curlew, albeit with a slight increase in size. Its plumage primarily consists of shades of brown, with a distinguishing feature being its underwing, which lacks the intricate patterns and markings seen in other curlew species. Recorded Sightings: Viti Levu – Vanua Levu – Taveuni – Kadavu – Lomaiviti – Lau – Rotuma

Video: Far Eastern Curlew

Audio: Far Eastern Curlew

Name: Bar-Tailed Godwit

Bar tailed Godwit FIJICommon Name: Bar-Tailed Godwit
Scientific Name: Limosa lapponica
Type: Migrant
Table: General details. Image Supplied:  Andreas Trepte. (2011).

Synopsis: Bar-Tailed Godwit

The bar-tailed godwit, scientifically referred to as Limosa lapponica, stands out as a sizable and highly migratory wader belonging to the Scolopacidae family. Its diet primarily consists of bristle-worms and shellfish found in coastal mudflats and estuaries. This bird showcases a unique breeding plumage characterized by hues of red, complemented by its elongated legs and an upturned bill of considerable length. Recorded Sightings: Viti Levu – Vanua Levu – Taveuni – Kadavu – Lomaiviti – Lau – Rotuma

Video: Bar-Tailed Godwit

Audio: Bar-Tailed Godwit

Name: Hudsonian Godwit

Limosa haemastica fIJICommon Name: Hudsonian Godwit
Scientific Name: Limosa haemastica
Type: Vagrant
Table: General details. Image Supplied: JJ Harrison. (2019).

Synopsis: Hudsonian Godwit

Brief Description: The Hudsonian godwit, scientifically known as Limosa haemastica, presents itself as a substantial shorebird within the sandpiper family. Mature individuals exhibit elongated dark legs and a slender pink bill with a gentle upward arch, accented by a darkened tip. Their upper plumage displays a pattern of mottled browns, while the underparts showcase a rich chestnut hue. A distinctive black tail contrasts with a white rump, and during flight, they reveal black wing linings. The legs and feet adopt a bluish-grey tone, completing their distinctive appearance. Recorded Sightings: Viti Levu – Vanua Levu – Taveuni – Kadavu – Lomaiviti – Lau – Rotuma

Video: Hudsonian Godwit

Audio: Hudsonian Godwit

Name: Ruddy Turnstone

Ruddy turnstoneCommon Name: Ruddy Turnstone
Scientific Name: Arenaria interpres
Type: Migrant
Table: General details. Image Supplied: David Spates. (2013).

Synopsis: Ruddy Turnstone

This bird, relatively small and stout in build, possesses a wedge-shaped bill that is elongated and subtly upturned. Its legs, rather short, stand out in a bright orange hue.

Throughout all seasons, its plumage is adorned with a striking harlequin-like pattern of contrasting black and white. During the breeding season, its upper parts take on a reddish-brown tone, accentuated by dark markings. The head displays a predominantly white coloration, marked by streaks of black on the crown and a distinctive black pattern on the face. The breast area is predominantly black, interrupted only by a white patch on the sides, while the remaining underparts appear white. Recorded Sightings: Viti Levu – Vanua Levu – Taveuni – Kadavu – Lomaiviti – Lau – Rotuma

Video: Ruddy Turnstone

Audio: Ruddy Turnstone

Name: Red Knot

Red KnotCommon Name: Red Knot
Scientific Name: Calidris canutus
Type: Vagrant
Table: General details. Image Supplied: Chuck Homler. (2017).

Synopsis: Red Knot

During different times of the year, these birds adapt their diet accordingly; opting for arthropods and larvae while nesting, and shifting to various hard-shelled mollusks at alternate feeding locations. Among the Calidris sandpipers, the adult red knot ranks as the second largest in terms of wingspan. Characteristic of the genus, it boasts a small head and eyes, a short neck, and a bill that tapers slightly and does not exceed the length of its head. Its legs are short and dark, while its bill is medium in length and slender, also dark in color. In its winter or basic plumage, the bird assumes a uniformly pale grey appearance, a trait shared by both sexes. Recorded Sightings: Viti Levu – Vanua Levu – Taveuni – Kadavu – Lomaiviti – Lau – Rotuma

Video: Red Knot

Audio: Red Knot

Name: Ruff

RuffCommon Name: Ruff
Scientific Name: Calidris pugnax
Type: Vagrant
Table: General details. Image Supplied: Arjan Haverkamp. (2010)

Synopsis: Ruff

Characterized by a unique silhouette, the ruff features a compact head, a bill of medium length, a neck of moderate length, and a rounded, pot-bellied body. Its legs, notably long, exhibit a range of colors, appearing dark greenish in juveniles and varying from pink to orange in adults. During the breeding season, certain males may develop legs of a reddish-orange hue, adding to the diversity of appearances within the species. Recorded Sightings: Unknown

Video: Ruff

Audio: Ruff

Name: Sharp Tailed Sandpiper

Sharp Tailed SandpiperCommon Name: Sharp Tailed Sandpiper
Scientific Name: Calidris acuminata
Type: Unknown
Table: General details. Image Supplied: JJ Harrison. (2014).

Synopsis: Sharp Tailed Sandpiper

The sharp-tailed sandpiper, scientifically named Calidris acuminata, is a migratory shorebird falling within the small to medium size range. Sporting a compact physique, this sandpiper boasts a rounded belly, a flat back, and a subtly elongated rear end.

Its upper body is adorned with a pattern of mottled chestnut-brown feathers, each featuring a distinctive dark center. A chestnut-colored cap crowns its head, complemented by a brown stripe that runs through each eye. Its bill, straight and dark grey to black in color, contrasts with olive to yellow-hued legs.

The underparts of this sandpiper are either white or paler in tone, mirroring the mottled pattern found on the breast and sides of the belly. Throughout the year, its plumage undergoes subtle changes, appearing duller during the wintering period and exhibiting more vibrant hues during the breeding season. Recorded Sightings: Unknown

Video: Sharp Tailed Sandpiper

Audio: Sharp Tailed Sandpiper

Name: Curlew Sandpiper

Top Image Curlew Sandpiper in Non breeding Plumage and Curlew Sandpiper in Breeding Plumage ColourationCommon Name: Curlew Sandpiper
Scientific Name: Calidris ferruginea
Type: Vagrant
Table: General details. Image Supplied: JJ Harrison. (2013) & Sandpiper. C (2017)

Synopsis: Curlew Sandpiper

Curlew sandpipers, small in stature, feature a distinct combination of traits, including a lengthy beak that curves downward, elongated neck and legs, and a white patch on their rump. During the breeding season, adult curlew sandpipers exhibit upperparts adorned with intricate dark grey patterns, while their underparts boast a warm brick-red coloration. In the winter months, their plumage takes on a lighter grey hue above and a predominantly white appearance below, with a prominent white stripe above the eyes. Juvenile curlew sandpipers showcase a blend of grey and brown on their backs, a white belly, and a soft peach-colored breast. Recorded Sightings: Viti Levu – Vanua Levu – Taveuni – Kadavu – Lomaiviti – Lau – Rotuma

Video: Curlew Sandpiper

Audio: Curlew Sandpiper

Name: Red-Necked Stint

Red necked StintCommon Name: Red-Necked Stint
Scientific Name: Calidris ruficollis
Type: Vagrant
Table: General details. Image Supplied: JJ Harrison. (2020).

Synopsis: Red-Necked Stint

The red-necked stint’s petite stature, slender dark bill, dark legs, and swift movements set it apart. It differs from the western sandpiper and the semipalmated sandpiper throughout its plumage variations due to its fine bill tip, non-webbed toes, and extended primary projection. During breeding, adults showcase an unmarked orange breast, accented with dark patterns below, and a distinctive white V shape on their back. Recorded Sightings: Viti Levu – Vanua Levu – Taveuni – Kadavu – Lomaiviti – Lau – Rotuma

Video: Red-Necked Stint

Audio: Red-Necked Stint

Name: Sanderling

Calidris alba Laem Phak BiaCommon Name: Sanderling
Scientific Name: Calidris alba
Type: Unknown
Table: General details. Image Supplied: JJ Harrison. (2011).

Synopsis: Sanderling

The appearance of the sanderling is that of a compact sandpiper. In winter, its feathers are noticeably light, nearly white, except for a dark marking on its shoulder. As summer advances, its face and throat acquire a brick-red tone. Young sanderlings display a striking black and white pattern, with more pronounced contrast than adults. Noteworthy characteristics encompass the lack of a hind toe and unique behavioral traits. Recorded Sightings: Unknown

Video: Sanderling

Audio: Sanderling

Name: Pectoral Sandpiper

Pectoral SandpiperCommon Name: Pectoral Sandpiper
Scientific Name: Calidris melanotos
Type: Vagrant
Table: General details. Image Supplied: Andreas Trepte. (2008)

Synopsis: Pectoral Sandpiper

With a back shaded in a mix of grey and brown, reaching its brownest hue during summer for males and fading to a greyish tone in winter, the pectoral sandpiper presents a distinctive appearance. Its breast is adorned in grey, sharply defined at its lower boundary. Yellowish legs support its form, while an olive bill, capped with a darker tip, completes its features. The pectoral sandpiper, scientifically known as Calidris melanotos, is a diminutive migratory shorebird. It breeds across North America and Asia, journeying to South America and Oceania for the winter months. Its diet primarily consists of small invertebrates. For nesting, it excavates a hole in the ground, furnishing it with a thick lining. This snug refuge serves to shield its clutch of four eggs from the brisk winds of its breeding locales. Recorded Sightings: Viti Levu – Vanua Levu – Taveuni – Kadavu – Lomaiviti – Lau – Rotuma

Video: Pectoral Sandpiper

Audio: Pectoral Sandpiper

Name: Terek Sandpiper

Xenus cinereus AlnusCommon Name: Terek Sandpiper
Scientific Name: Xenus cinereus
Type: Vagrant
Table: General details. Image Supplied: Alnus. (2008).

Synopsis: Terek Sandpiper

The Terek Sandpiper is easily distinguished by its notably long, upturned bill. As hinted by its scientific name, this bird displays a consistent coloration across its back, face, and breast, all adorned in shades of grey. A white supercilium, varying in clarity, may grace its features. Its belly presents a whitish hue, while its feet boast a sunny yellow shade. The bill, characterized by a yellowish base transitioning into a black tip, adds to its distinctive appearance. Recorded Sightings: Viti Levu – Vanua Levu – Taveuni – Kadavu – Lomaiviti – Lau – Rotuma

Video: Terek Sandpiper

Audio: Terek Sandpiper

Name: Common Sandpiper

Common SandpiperCommon Name: Common Sandpiper
Scientific Name: Actitis hypoleucos
Type: Vagrant
Table: General details. Image Supplied: JJ Harrison. (2012).

Synopsis: Common Sandpiper

The Common Sandpiper displays upperparts tinted in a mixture of grey and brown, contrasting with its white underparts. Its legs and feet are short and of a dark-yellowish hue, while its bill showcases a pale base transitioning to a dark tip. During winter, its plumage dulls, with more pronounced barring on the wings, albeit discernible only up close. Juveniles exhibit heavier barring on their upper parts and wing feathers edged in buff. Recorded Sightings: Viti Levu – Vanua Levu – Taveuni – Kadavu – Lomaiviti – Lau – Rotuma

Video: Common Sandpiper

Audio: Common Sandpiper

Name: Solitary Sandpiper

SolitarysandpiperCommon Name: Solitary Sandpiper
Scientific Name: Tringa solitaria
Type: Vagrant
Table: General details. Image Supplied: JJ Harrison. (2007).

Synopsis: Solitary Sandpiper

The Solitary Sandpiper is a compact shorebird, sporting a deep green dorsal plumage, with hints of gray on its head and breast, set against a backdrop of pristine white underparts. Its flight is distinctive, marked by uniformly dark wings both above and below, complemented by a dark rump and central tail feathers. Recorded Sightings: Viti Levu – Vanua Levu – Taveuni – Kadavu – Lomaiviti – Lau – Rotuma

Video: Solitary Sandpiper

Audio: Solitary Sandpiper

Name: Gray-Tailed Ttler

Gray Tailed TtlerCommon Name: Gray-Tailed Ttler
Scientific Name: Tringa brevipes
Type: Migrant
Table: General details. Image Supplied:  Honan4108. (2006).

Synopsis: Gray-Tailed Ttler

The Grey-tailed Tattler presents unmarked greyish wings and back, along with a scaled breast pattern that extends somewhat onto the belly during breeding season. Additionally, both display a noticeable supercilium. These avians share a similar shape and size with Common Redshanks. Their upper parts, underwings, face, and neck exhibit shades of grey, contrasting with a white belly. Short, yellowish legs support their form, while their bills feature a pale base transitioning to a dark tip, accompanied by a faint supercilium. Recorded Sightings: Viti Levu – Vanua Levu – Taveuni – Kadavu – Lomaiviti – Lau – Rotuma

Video: Gray-Tailed Ttler

Audio: Gray-Tailed Ttler

Name: Wandering Tattler

Wandering TattlerCommon Name: Wandering Tattler
Scientific Name: Tringa incana
Type: Migrant
Table: General details. Image Supplied: Dominic Sherony. (2007).

Synopsis: Wandering Tattler

The Wandering Tattler boasts a sturdy build, adorned with grey upperparts, underwings, face, and neck, juxtaposed against a pristine white belly. Their legs are short and dark yellow, complemented by a dark gray bill. During breeding season, adults exhibit dense barring underneath. Recorded Sightings: Viti Levu – Vanua Levu – Taveuni – Kadavu – Lomaiviti – Lau – Rotuma

Video: Wandering Tattler

Audio: Wandering Tattler

Fijian Commemorative Postage Stamp


Wandering Tattler Heteroscelus incanus.
Image: Fiji Postage Stamp of Wandering Tattler.

Name: Lesser Yellowlegs

Lesser YellowlegsCommon Name: Lesser Yellowlegs
Scientific Name: Tringa flavipes
Type: Vagrant
Table: General details. Image Supplied: Wwcsig. (2007).

Synopsis: Lesser Yellowlegs

The Lesser Yellowlegs exhibits similar characteristics between sexes, both in plumage and overall size. During breeding season, their upperparts display a mix of gray-brown, black, and white mottling, while the underparts feature white coloring with irregular brown streaks on the breast and neck.

In non-breeding attire, the upperparts assume a more consistent gray-brown hue. Their legs are a vibrant yellow. Distinguishing from the greater yellowlegs, their bill appears shorter (visually comparable to the length of the head), slender, straight, and uniformly dark. Streaking adorns the breast, while the flanks bear delicate markings of short bars. Recorded Sightings: Viti Levu – Vanua Levu – Taveuni – Kadavu – Lomaiviti – Lau – Rotuma

Video: Lesser Yellowlegs

Audio: Lesser Yellowlegs

Name: Viti Levu Snipe

No Image ThumbnailCommon Name: Viti Levu Snipe
Scientific Name: Coenocorypha miratropica
Type: Extirpated
Recorded Sightings: Viti Levu
Table: General details of the Viti Levu Snipe

Related Articles

Pheasants, Grouse & AlliesSwallowsPlovers and Lapwings
Grass birds and AlliesDucks, Geese and WaterfowlRails, Gallinules and Coots
Herons, Egrets & BitternsIbises & SpoonbillsKingfishers
Cuckoo ShrikesMonarch FlycatchersFantails
Australasian RobinsThrushes and AlliesStarlings
Whistlers and alliesWoodswallows, BellmagpiesWaxbills and allies
Barn OwlsBush Warblers and AlliesOld World Sparrows
Hawks – EaglesCuckoosFrogmouth
FalconsOld World ParrotsHoneyeaters
BulbulsWhite EyesSandpipers and Allies
Skuas and JaegersFrigatebirdsNorthern storm-petrels
AlbatrossesPelicansSouthern Storm Petrels
TropicbirdsBoobies and GannetsShearwaters and petrels
Gulls, Terns and SkimmersPigeons and DovesSwifts
Table: Bird Groups of Fiji.

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Additional Sources of Information

  • NatureFiji-MareqetiViti is Fiji’s only domestic NGO working solely for the conservation and sustainable management of Fiji’s unique natural heritage – Link