The Upland Sandpiper is the "shorebird of the prairie". While most of its relatives are never found far from water, this species has made itself at home on the grasslands. Of the 47 species of shorebirds known to nest in North America, only the Killdeer, Mountain Plover and Long billed Curlew have a similar strategy of nesting and feeding in upland prairie habitat.
In its habitat, it cannot be confused with any other bird.
One interesting facet of their breeding behavior is that they form loose colonies and appear to synchronize their hatching cycle.
The young are long-legged like their parents and can follow them around within two days after hatching. Only one nest is made each season and there are 4 eggs per clutch. The young are fledged by the time they are a month old. The birds begin their trek back to South America soon afterwards, and practically all of them have left on their southward migration by the end of August.
A summer day on the prairie offers a modest but very satisfying program of natural music. The sound of the wind in the grass along with crickets, grasshoppers, cicadas and other insects make up the basic soundscape. But only a few larger animals will be heard. If you are near water, you may hear a breeding chorus of frogs or toads. Otherwise, only a few birds - Dickcissels, Grasshopper Sparrows, meadowlarks and Upland Sandpipers - will add their flourishes, and the Upland Sandpiper is by far the most melodic of those. Spend some time exploring a summer prairie and enjoy the concert!
- This page was spun by Jim Mason -
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