Wandering Tattler

Heteroscelus incanus
Wandering tattler

The wandering tattler is a sandpiper that is dark gray with lighter gray undersides. It has a white stripe from its bill to the back of its head. The bill is black and its legs are dull yellow. Its breading plumage is heavily barred on the undersides with bold bars on the undertailThey are easily recognized because they stand near water and bob their tails up and down. Tattlers are solitary birds, even during breeding season but may occur in groups of two to three birds. If not seen, the birds vocalization in flight is distinguishable - a trill of four notes “ki-ree-ree-ree”. Wandering tattlers are common wintering birds to Wake Atoll. In March 1999 surveys reported approximately 75 wandering tattlers scattered around the island on rocky reefs and in small wetland ponds primarily located on Wake Island.

Tattlers nest in habitats associated with dwarf shrub upland and montane tundra with adjacent water (ponds and rivers). The birds’ dull coloration camouflages them in these gravel habitats. They breed in Alaska and Canada from May through August. These shorebirds are monogamous, mating with only one bird that season. Nests are built with gravel, small pebbles, twigs and roots often near mountain streams and rivers. Like many shorebirds, these birds also lay a clutch of four eggs. Both parents will incubate the eggs for 3 weeks until they hatch and are then cared for by both parents until they fledge. The chicks leave the nest shortly after hatching. 


Facts About Wandering Tattler

Feed mainly on invertebrates but will also consume small fish when available. 
Life Span
16  years
Length: 26-30 cm (10.2-11.8 in); wingspan: 50-55 cm (19.7-21.7 in)