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Buff-breasted Sandpiper Calidris subruficollis
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species underwent rapid historical declines. Its moderately small remaining population continues to decline and as a result it is considered Near-Threatened.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Christidis, L.; Boles, W. E. 2008. Systematics and taxonomy of Australian birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

Taxonomic note
Calidris subruficollis (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously placed in the genus Tryngites.

Tryngites subruficollis (Vieillot, 1819)

Distribution and population
Tryngites subruficollis breeds sporadically along Arctic coasts from central Alaska, U.S.A., to Devon Island, Canada, with a relict population on Wrangel Island and west Chukotka, Russia. It has also been reported from St Pierre and Miquelon (to France) as a non-breeder. Birds winter in eastern South America including Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia after passing through the Greater and Lesser Antilles or around the Gulf coast of Central America. Originally numbering in the hundreds of thousands to millions (1890s-1900s), the species was brought to near extinction in the early 1920s by hunting. It has not recovered, with the current population estimated at 16,000-84,000 individuals based on various estimates from birds passing through the Rainwater Basin in Nebraska and the Gulf coastal plain in Louisiana and Texas (Morrison et al. 2006). It is difficult to monitor, as it is not faithful to breeding sites (and possibly not to wintering sites), but data from North American migration sites suggest that declines are continuing.

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number c.16,000-84,000 individuals (Morrison et al. 2006).

Trend justification
A moderate and on-going decline is suspected based on surveys at staging posts. This is thought to be driven by habitat loss and conversion, but contaminants may also have an impact.

It breeds in the high Arctic on well drained tundra with tussocks and scant vegetation. It is generally not found near the sea and avoids marshes. It appears to depend heavily upon intensive grazing by livestock in its wintering grounds to create short grassland (Lanctot et al. 2002), but also uses flooded pampas grasslands. During migration it is found on many short grass habitats. At the internationally important Rainwater Basin stopover site in Nebraska, U.S.A., it was observed to feed primarily in agricultural grassland, and use wetlands for resting (McCarty et al. 2009). It is a lekking species.

It was severely overhunted in the early part of the 1900s, reportedly declining to near extinction from a population which may have numbered in the millions. Immediate threats are the matter of some conjecture. The breeding grounds may be affected by habitat loss and degradation, and environmental contaminants (R. Lanctot in litt. 2003). Previously, on-going declines were attributed to widespread and continuing destruction of grasslands in the wintering range (Lanctot and Laredo 1994, Lanctot 1995), but there seems little evidence to support this, although environmental contaminants may be playing a part there (R. Lanctot in litt. 2003). Exposure on migration to toxic chemicals and pollutants in its agricultural feeding grounds may pose a threat, and is being investigated further (Lanctot 2006, McCarty et al. 2009).

Conservation Actions Underway
CMS Appendix I and II. A symposium was held in 2005-2006 to identify priority actions for the conservation of the species. Conservation Actions Proposed
Implement priority actions identified at the Buff-breasted Sandpiper symposium. Ascertain the population size and trend for the species. Complete a species action plan. Conserve key staging and wintering grasslands. Investigate the quality of foraging habitat and the influence of contaminants at the agricultural feeding grounds used on migration (McCarty et al. 2009).

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

Lanctot, R. 2006. Buff-breasted Sandpiper symposium. Wader Study Group Bulletin: 20-22.

Lanctot, R. B. 1995. A closer look: Buff-breasted Sandpiper. Birding 27: 384-390.

Lanctot, R. B.; Blanco, D. E.; Dias, R. A.; Isacch, J. P.; Gill, V. A.; Almeida, J. B.; Delhey, K.; Petracci, P. F.; Bencke, G. A.; Balbueno, R. A. 2002. Conservation status of the Buff-breasted Sandpiper: historic and contemporary distribution and abundance in South America. Wilson Bulletin 114: 44-72.

Lanctot, R. B.; Laredo, C. D. 1994. Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Tryngites subruficollis). In: Poole, A.; Gill, F. (ed.), The birds of North America, No. 91, pp. 1-20. The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia and The American Ornithologists' Union, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.

McCarty, J. P.; Jorgensen, J. G.; Wolfenbarger, L. L. 2009. Behavior of Buff-breasted Sandpipers (Tryngites subruficollis) during migratory stopover in agricultural fields. PLoS ONE 4(11): 1-5.

Morrison, R. I. G.; McCaffery, B. J.; Gill, R. E.; Skagen, S. K.; Jones, S. L.; Page, G. W.; Gratto-Trevor, C. L.; Andres, B. A. 2006. Population estimates of North American shorebirds, 2006. Wader Study Group Bulletin: 67-85.

Morrison, R. I. G.; McCaffery, B.J.; Skagen, S.; Andres, B.; Page, G.; Jones, S.; Gill, R.E. in prep. Population estimates of North American shorebirds.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Khwaja, N., Taylor, J.

Casañas, H., Harrington, B., Lanctot, R., Russell, B.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Calidris subruficollis. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Scolopacidae (Sandpipers, Snipes, Phalaropes)
Species name author (Vieillot, 1819)
Population size 11000-56000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 599,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species