Bird Species Profile: Upland Sandpiper

This bird species is an unusual shorebird that can be found in grasslands.

Rob Ripma

Last weekend, I was birding at a very interesting grassland in Northwest Indiana called Kankakee Sands. The property is owned by the Nature Conservancy and it protects a habitat zone that is rather unusual in the state, Central Tallgrass Prairie. We’ve lost 99.9% of our original prairies, wetlands, black oak barrens, and sand prairies in Indiana, making this property critical to the species that use these habitats. Since Upland Sandpipers love grasslands and prairies, it’s no surprise that you can find this species in the Kankakee Sands region.

This Upland Sandpiper was more than willing to let me sit in my car and photograph it!

This Upland Sandpiper was more than willing to let me sit in my car and photograph it!

While I was unable to find one while on the actual preserve, I did find one south of the property. The bird flew up from the side of the road as we drove by but quickly settled into a farm field. I was able to sit in my car near the bird for the next 5 minutes taking loads of photos! I’ve seen the species in Indiana before and also in South Dakota where they are much more common, but it’s always a special occasion for me when I see them. It’s especially amazing if you get to hear them call! You can see how awesome their call is by listening to it here. Upland Sandpipers, like many bird species of grassland and prairie habitats has undergone serious and steady declines over the last 100 years. While hunting has played some role in the decline, it is mainly caused by habitat loss. Grasslands have disappeared at an alarming rate and it’s taken its toll on this species.

After sitting in the field for a bit, the bird seemed to forget we were there and come even closer. We were extremely quiet and still which allowed me to get some great photos.

After sitting in the field for a bit, the bird seemed to forget we were there and come even closer. We were extremely quiet and still which allowed me to get some great photos.

Have you ever seen an Upland Sandpiper? If so, where was it?

 

  1. Susie Sanders says

    I’ve seen lowcountry sandpipers never upland Thanks it looks as though they hav a longer neck and lighter feathers.

  2. Susie Sanders says

    I am talking about the state of SC, I lived on the coast for 20 years and ours also seem smaller.

  3. Susan Charette says

    I saw two at the Plymouth Airport in Massachusetts! Our bird club had special permission to enter the grassland to view these beauties! Also seen was a Vesper Sparrow!

  4. NINA JAWNYJ says

    THERE IS ONE BY OUR GRASSY POND NEXT TO WORK.. IT FLYS DOWN TO THE POND EVERY DAY AS I DRIVE PAST. DO THEY NEST IN THE GRASS?.

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