Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
White-rumped Sandpiper - Calidris fuscicollis
Search Common:                 Search Scientific:
General Comments This and the Baird's Sandpiper are the two large "peep" species found in the state. Neither is common in North Carolina, though the White-rumped Sandpiper is numerous enough, at least locally along the coast, to not merit reporting. Its white rump patch and very high mouse-like squeak call are quite distinct from other small shorebirds, though many larger shorebird species have white rumps. Like some other species, the White-rumped has an extraordinarily long migratory route, wintering in the southern half of South America and breeding in the Arctic tundra. While in North Carolina, White-rumpeds inhabit fresh or brackish pools, impoundments, and flats, usually at still water, typically shunning salt water habitats.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank SZ
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Transient. Uncommon to locally fairly common in spring along the northern coast, particularly at Bodie/Pea islands; rare to uncommon southward. Somewhat less numerous in fall, typically uncommon north of Cape Hatteras, and rare to uncommon southward. A scarce (generally rare) spring and fall migrant in the Tidewater zone, as well as farther inland; somewhat more numerous inland in May than in fall. Usual dates are early May to late Jun, and late Aug to mid-Nov; no records for Dec or Feb. A report from Pamlico in mid-Jan seems highly unlikely. Peak flights are in the latter half of May and even early Jun, and again in the first half of Sep. Peak counts: 1,000, from Bodie Island to Cape Hatteras, 11-13 May 1979; 375, same general area, 30 May 1988; 67, Pea Island, 3 Sep 2016 is perhaps the higherst fall count.
Piedmont Transient. Rare to uncommon (at least locally) in spring and fall; mainly early May to early Jun, and late Jul to late Oct; one very late at Jordan Lake, 13 Dec 1987. Peak counts: 37, Falls Lake 2-8 Sep 2002; 16, Winston-Salem, 9 May 1978.
Mountains Transient, essentially only in low elevations in the southern counties. In spring, very rare to locally rare essentially only in Henderson from 29 Apr to 2 Jun, with about 11 published records. A group of seven at Ela (Swain) on 20 May 2016 is the only other known spring record. Surprisingly, casual in fall, with only three known records: 2 seen at Hooper Lane (Henderson) on 31 Aug 2009; 5 at that site on 12-13 Sep 2017; and one along Butler Bridge Road (Henderson) on the very late date of 12 Nov 2017. Peak counts: 25, Henderson, 24 May 2009; 15, Henderson, 23 May 2006; 15, Henderson, 28 May 2017; 12, Price Lake (Watauga), 2 May 1978; 12, Hooper Lane, 16 Sep 2018.
Finding Tips This can be a difficult to find species away from the Bodie-Pea Island or Cape Hatteras areas. You should be able to find several, to 10 or more, at North Pond or Bodie Island lighthouse pond, during the last half of May. In fall, they can be harder to find, but there are usually a few present at the impoundments at Bodie or Pea islands, especially in Sep and Oct. Inland, check shorebird areas in late May, the best time to find them away from the coast.
** to ***
Attribution LeGrand[2023-03-10], LeGrand[2019-04-19], LeGrand[2018-02-20]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.