Several species of sandpipers resemble C. pusilla at first glance. Of these, the western sandpiper, C. mauri, and the least sandpiper, C. minutilla, are most likely to overlap in range. The bill of the western sandpiper is usually longer, thinner and more drooped than that of C. pusilla (Farrand 1983; Paulson 2005). Plumage is very similar between the species, except in breeding adults where the head of the western sandpiper is reddish-brown and sides are distinctly marked with chevrons. The least sandpiper is easily distinguished from C. pusilla upon close examination, characterized by paler legs, shorter wings and browner coloration (Paulson 2005). When plumage and body coloration are similar among species, the semipalmated sandpiper can be identified with practice by its distinct call (see 'Voice' below) (Farrand 1983). Flight Patterns & Locomotion: While in flight, semipalmated sandpipers form close flocks with a uniform twisting motion that reveals their dark backs followed by the white of their breasts. Flight speeds of some individuals have been recorded up to 50 mph (Terres 1980). Flocks settle on the ground and spread out to feed, running just above the wave line on beaches, in shallow water or on exposed tidal flats (Terres 1980; Collazo et al. 2002). While resting, flocks often huddle closely. Individuals orient into the wind with their bills buried in their back feathers, and frequently stand or lightly hop on one leg (Terres 1980).
- Audubon. 2010. Semipalmated Sandpiper. National Audubon Society. Online at http://web1.audubon.org/science/species/watchlist/profile.php?speciesCode=semsan (Date accessed: 08/10/2010).
- Collazo, JA, O'Harra, DA & CA Kelly. 2002. Accessible habitat for shorebirds: factors influencing its availability and conservation implications. Waterbirds 25: 13-24.
- Farrand Jr., J (Ed.). 1983. The Audubon Society Master Guide to Birding Volume 1: Loons to Sandpipers. Alfred A. Knopf. New York. USA. 447 pp.
- Kale II, HW & DS Maehr. 1990. Florida's Birds. Pineapple Press. Sarasota, FL. USA. 288 pp.
- McCurdy, DG, Forbes, MR & JS Boates. 1999. Evidence that the parasitic nematode Skrjabinoclava manipulates host Corophium behavior to increase transmission to the sandpiper, Calidris pusilla. Behav. Ecol. 19: 351-357.
- Paulson, D. 2005. Shorebirds of North America: A Photographic Guide. Princeton Univ. Press. Princeton, NJ. USA. 361 pp.
- Peterson, RT. 1980. A Field Guide to the Birds: A Completely New Guide to All the Birds of Eastern and Central North America. Houghton Mifflin. Boston, MA. USA. 384 pp.
- Safriel, UN. 1975. On the significance of clutch size in nidifugous birds. Ecology 56: 703-708.
- Schneider, DC & BA Harrington. 1981. Timing of shorebird migration in relation to prey depletion. The Auk 98: 801-811.
- Terres, JK. 1980. The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds. Alfred A. Knopf. New York. USA. 1109 pp.
- USFWS. 2010. Migratory Birds and Habitat Programs. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Online at http://www.fws.gov/laws/lawsdigest/migtrea.html (Date accessed: 08/10/2010).
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