Common Sandpiper

Actitis hypoleucus

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  3. Wading birds
  4. Common Sandpiper


The common sandpiper is a smallish wading bird which breeds along fast-moving rivers and near lakes, lochs and reservoirs in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the north of England. Wintering birds may be spotted along the south coast but passage migrants can be seen at the edge of freshwater lakes or on estuaries during spring and autumn. It bobs up and down when standing, known as 'teetering', and has a distinctive, stiff-winged flight.

How to identify

Sandpipers can be a difficult group of birds to get to grips with. Common sandpipers are green-brown above with a bright white belly and they show a brown rump and strong white wingbars when they fly. They are most similar to wood sandpipers and green sandpipers but are smaller and shorter-legged than both. Common sandpipers have a shortish, straight bill which is grey and have green legs.

Where to find it

Nests around the edge of lakes and large rivers in the uplands. A common bird on migration at many inland wetlands throughout the country.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Breeding populations of common sandpipers have declined in recent years. Its wetland habitats are under threat from drainage, development and pollution but The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife happenings, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities and be helping local wildlife along the way.

Species information

Common name
Common Sandpiper
Latin name
Actitis hypoleucus
Wading birds
Length: 19-21cm Wingspan: 40cm Weight: 50g Average Lifespan: 8 years
Conservation status
Classified in the UK as an Amber List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review.