Appearance There are 7 species of Sandpiper regularly found in Kenya. Sandpipers in Kenya share their family name (Scolopacidae) with Goodwits, Phalaropes, Redshanks, Snipes, Stints, the Common Greenshank, Dunlin, Eurasian Curlew, Red Knot, Ruddy Turnstone, Ruff, Sanderling and Whimbrel. Sandpipers have long necks, long legs and long, slim bills. They are all palearctic migrants, but a few remain all year. The breeding plumage of some Sandpipers starts before they migrate around April and/or can be seen after they return around August and is brighter than non-breeding plumage. All have separate, distinct calls.
Habits Sandpipers are generally seen alone, or in small groups, most often wading in shallow water, or along the water's edge. A few are gregarious and seen in larger flocks. Most Sandpipers scrape the ground to make a nest, laying 3 - 4 eggs. They can then become aggressive birds, challenging would-be predators in aerial attacks.
Diet Sandpipers eat a variety of aquatic insects; some eat larvae and molluscs, others tackling small fish and frogs, A few eat plant matter.
Resident Sandpipers are seen all over Kenya, except in the north-west. They are seen where there are bodies of water or slow-moving rivers and streams. Also seen in coastal regions.
Extra Sandpiper Facts Sandpipers use their sensitive bills and feet to find food in mud and soft soil. They have special molecules in the tips of their bills, to make them sensitive. They can also flex their upper mandible, to better grip food - just like flexing a finger, but without a joint.
Photographs Photographed at Kenya's Masai Mara, Mfangano Island (Lake Victoria), Nairobi NP and Olare Orok Conservancy.