Upland Sandpiper

Upland sandpiper - USFWS.

Unlike most shorebirds, the upland sandpiper is completely terrestrial, rarely associated with coastal or wetland habitats, an obligate grassland species; as a result, it is often recognized as an indicator of tallgrass prairie health. It exhibits distinctive grassland adaptations: cryptic coloration, ground-nesting, well-defined diversionary displays, flight song, and relatively short incubation and nestling periods.

This species spends as little as 4 months on its breeding grounds, largely in the central and northern plains of North America, where it typically requires 3 different but nearby habitats: during courting, it needs perches and low vegetation for visibility; during nesting, higher vegetation to hide its nest; and during supervision of young, lower vegetation. The upland sandpiper is capable of long flights, often reaching its wintering grounds in South America within a week, where it spends up to 8 months. During this southbound migration, individuals are known to wander to Guam, Australia, Tristan da Cunha, and Deception Island off Antarctica, and from inland North America to Europe.

Upland sandpipers return to Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge to nest in the grasslands around the historic weapons storage area. The refuge actively manages the grasslands to promote obligate grassland nesting birds such as the upland sandpiper, savannah sparrow and bobolink.