Costa Rica: Spotted Sandpiper

Jaco Beach is known for its nightlight but the area is full of wildlife as well. This Spotted Sandpiper was just one of the many birds we spotted while relaxing on the shoreline.

One of the last areas Theresa and I decided to visit before we left Costa Rica was Jaco Beach. It a very popular area best know of its nightlife. Second is its beach and the surf. We had driven through the town on our way to Manuel Antonio National Park and it just so happens we had found a bit of secluded beach away from the ruckus. We decided to go there for no other reason than to relax, sun and do some swimming. We did all of the above but the area is full of wildlife. This Spotted Sandpiper is just one of the many sea birds we saw that day.

Behavior: Spotted Sandpipers are often solitary and walk with a distinctive teeter, bobbing their tails up and down constantly. When foraging they walk quickly, crouching low, occasionally darting toward prey, all the while bobbing the tail. In-flight, Spotted Sandpipers have quick, snappy wingbeats interspersed with glides, keeping their wings below horizontal. Listen for a few high whistled notes as they take off from the shoreline.

Size and Shape: The Spotted Sandpiper is a medium-sized shorebird with a bill slightly shorter than its head and a body that tapers to a longish tail. They have a rounded breast and usually appear as though they are leaning forward.

Color Pattern: In breeding season Spotted Sandpipers have bold dark spots on their bright white breast and an orange bill. The back is dark brown. In winter, a Spotted Sandpiper’s breast is not spotted; it’s plain white, while the back is grayish-brown and the bill is pale yellow. In-flight, Spotted Sandpipers have a thin white stripe along the wing.

Habitat: Look for Spotted Sandpipers nearly anywhere near water—along stream banks, rivers, ponds, lakes, and beaches, particularly on rocky shores. This species is one of the most widespread breeding shorebirds in North and Central America and is commonly seen near freshwater, even in otherwise arid or forested regions.

Length: 7.1-7.9 in (18-20 cm)

Weight: 1.2-1.8 oz (34-50 g)

Wingspan: 14.6-15.8 in (37-40 cm)

You can read more about the various animals we encountered here. Please your own personal observations or encounters in the comments.

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