Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Upland Sandpiper - Bartramia longicauda
SCOLOPACIDAE Members:
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General Comments The Upland Sandpiper is one of the more unusual shorebirds in North America. It is monotypic, with no obvious close relatives, it nests essentially in grasslands (prairies and fields), and it has a long, thin neck and small head that imparts a "skinny" look that is different from all other shorebirds. Unlike nearly all other shorebirds, it neither lingers into late fall/winter, nor over-summers, in our state, and thus is a strict spring and fall migrant. The spring flight is more inland across the state, and it is thus seldom seen near the coast, whereas in late summer and fall it is seen mainly in the eastern portion of the state. Interestingly, it nests sparingly as far south as Virginia, but as yet there is not a single record in North Carolina that suggests nesting. In North Carolina, "Uppies" have a narrow habitat preference -- almost exclusively in short to medium grass, in uplands; favored sites are pastures, grasslands at airports, extensive lawns, and extensive turf farms. Sadly, in the past few decades, global numbers of the species have noticeably declined, and it is now harder to find Uplands in the state than 20 or more years ago, especially in spring migration.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank SZ
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Transient; declining. In spring, rare in inland portions, and very rare farther eastward (Tidewater and coastal areas); in fall, very rare to locally rare inland, and rare to locally uncommon in Tidewater and coastal areas. Most numerous at airports in late summer and early fall, such as at Wilmington, Beaufort, and Manteo; also, in the past few years, numbers have been found at several turf farms (a "new" habitat, as turf farms have only appeared as a business in the past one or two decades). Primarily early Apr to early May, and mid-Jul to mid-Sep; a few records in Jun presumably refer to early fall migrants; departs very early, with only one record after Sep, that being of one at Cape Hatteras, 26 Oct 2003. Peak counts: 46, Wilmington airport, 20 Aug 1981; 31, same location, 14 Aug 1980; 27 at a turf farm near Creswell (Washington), 28 Aug 2014; 22 at the last site, 18 Aug 2006.
Piedmont Transient; declining. Formerly rare in spring, but now very rare to rare (few recent spring records); also very rare to rare in fall. Widely scattered across the region, and not clustered near large reservoirs in the eastern portion (like so many other shorebird species). Mainly very late Mar to early May, and mid-Jul to early Sep; by far the latest record is one at Lattimore (Cleveland), 29 Oct 1998. Peak counts: 33, North Wilkesboro, 8 Apr 1962; 5, Greensboro airport, 17 Apr 1993.
Mountains Transient; probably declining. Rare and local in spring, very rare in fall; essentially all records below 2,500 feet elevation. Most records from Henderson and Transylvania, especially at Hooper Lane (where uncommon but annually seen in spring). Mainly early Apr to early May, and late Jul to mid-Sep. Remarkable was one collected in Buncombe on the exceptionally late date of 10 Nov 1894. Peak counts: 8, Hooper Lane, 22 Apr 2000; 7 at that site, 9 Apr 2006; 6 at this site on several dates, including 11 Sep 1998.
Finding Tips Uplands are best located in the fall from late Jul to early Sep, along the coast. The grasslands around the runways at the Manteo, Beaufort, and Wilmington airports are good places to check, as are the turf farm fields just west of Creswell (visible from US 64); another consistent spot is the Wright Brothers National Memorial grounds. Farther inland, the Cherry Hospital grounds near Goldsboro, in spring and fall, is the best site. To look for them inland, your best bet is in mid-Apr, at airports or extensive pastures.
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Attribution LeGrand[2018-02-01], LeGrand[2015-06-13], LeGrand[2014-05-17]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.
NA Maps
(source NatureServe)

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, AL, AR, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
Canada AB, BC, MB, NB, NS, NT, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002