Fall Shorebirds of Seapoint


Least Sandpiper

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Semipalmated Plover

Baird's Sandpiper

White-rumped Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper



• Pectoral Sandpiper

• Purple Sandpiper

• Ruddy Turnstone

• Killdeer

• Black-bellied Plover

• Greater Yellowlegs

• Quiz


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Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus)

6.5" Length. First adults seen 8/8, first juveniles 8/28. In August the adults are more common than juveniles, then juveniles outnumbering adults in September. Common and abundant mid-August through September. Regularly present but less common into mid-November. Last adult seen 11/17, last juvenile 11/21. Similar species to watch out for: Piping Plover (pale), Wilson's Plover (big blacker bill), and the larger and longer-legged Killdeer (2 black breast bands and a rufous rump).

Like Semipalmated Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers are one of the most numerous shorebirds you'll see at Seapoint, and definitely the most abundant of the plovers. All the plovers have much shorter and stubbier bills than the sandpipers. chunkier bodies, short necks, and no stripe down the middle of the rump and tail. Semipalmated Plovers have a single solid dark band across their white breasts, white foreheads and dark masks through the eyes. The differences between the adult and juvenile plumages are subtle, so you have to look closely if you want to tell them apart. Here's a juvenile.

Adults won't have the lacy edging on the brown feathers, they also have more orange in the bill, and a blacker breast band and head markings. These are all adults below and if you look at each closely, two have thicker breast bands and blacker head markings than the other two. Those are males and the drabber and browner birds females.

Here's an August adult still in breeding plumage, note the base of both the upper and lower bill is bright orange and only the very tip is dark. You can also see the bit of webbing between the toes that gives the bird its "semipalmated" moniker.

Except for the earliest migrants, most adults you'll see at Seapoint will be in nonbreeding plumage like this bird below. There's no lacy pattern to the wing and back feathers like in the juveniles and the short bill at base is partly dark on top rather than all orange.

In this pic are a nonbreeding adult on the left and a juvenile on the right.

In a crowd, Semipalmated Plovers, regardless of age, sex, or plumage are relatively easy to spot by their short bills, yellow-orange legs, and solid single breast bands.

Here are a few resting with a brownish Dunlin (center left) which is only a little larger, has a spotted breast and a long bill which is tucked away.

In flight they are also easy to spot, note the dark stripe in the tail you can see in the 3rd bird from the right. Most Calidris sandpipers (except the White-rumped Sandpiper) will have a dark vertical stripe down the center with white on either side. But in the Charadrius plovers the tails have dark horizontal markings.

Next > Baird's Sandpiper

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