Marsh Sandpiper

Did you know?

The Marsh Sandpiper will often follow other birds such as ducks to take advantage of the insects they stir up when they are feeding. At other times they sit quietly and are very easily overlooked.

The call varies from a musical 'tu-ee-u tu-ee-u' to a soft 'tew', and metallic sharp 'yip tchik'. The alarm call is rather like that of the Black-winged Stilt.
Facts and Figures
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Breeding season: 
April to August
Clutch Size: 
4 to 5
Conservation Status
Basic Information
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What does it look like?

The Marsh Sandpiper is a distinctive, very long-legged wader, with a fine long bill and small body. When not breeding, the Marsh Sandpiper has a soft grey-brown upper body, with breast and neck white. A white 'eyebrow' shows above the eye. When breeding, the head and neck are heavily streaked dark brown and the flanks and lower breast show bars or chevrons. The very long legs are yellowish green. Juvenile Marsh Sandpipers have more heavily patterned upper parts than non-breeding adults. When feeding, this species is very upright with slow graceful movements breaking into quick dashes. In flight it shows a dark outer wing and slightly lighter inner wing, and a white wedge on the lower back and rump, and its long legs trail beyond the tail.

Similar species: 

Marsh Sandpipers can be confused with the Common Greenshank, T. nebularia, especially in flight, when the long white back and rump with pale tail are similar. The wing beats are however faster than the Greenshank. On land the Marsh Sandpiper is daintier and the bill a lot more slender and needle-like. The bill of the Common Greenshank is slightly up-turned.

Where does it live?

The Marsh Sandpiper is common across the far north of Australia though more scattered on other coastal areas and sparse inland. Breeding occurs from east Europe to east Siberia. In the non-breeding period they also occur throughout southern Africa, the Indian subcontinent, southern Indochina, Borneo and Sumatra and New Guinea.


Marsh Sandpipers are commonly seen singly, or in small to large flocks in fresh or brackish (slightly salty) wetlands such as rivers, water meadows, sewage farms, drains, lagoons and swamps.

Seasonal movements: 

The Marsh Sandpiper is a migratory species, breeding in eastern Europe, southern Siberia and northern China, then moving southwards from Africa and across southern Asia to Australia. It is a summer migrant to Australia, from about August to April.

What does it do?

Marsh Sandpipers eat aquatic insects, larvae, molluscs and crustaceans. They feed by wading briskly in shallow water, pecking from the surface or sometimes sweeping the bill from side to side. They may wade deeper and feel for prey.


Marsh Sandpipers breed in marshland in eastern Europe, south west Siberia, Mongolia and north China. They breed in scattered single pairs or loose colonies. Both parents share incubation and care of the young. The nest is a shallow scrape, lined with grass, in short vegetation.

Living with us

Threats on the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (the migration route to Australia) include economic and social pressures such as wetland destruction and change, pollution and hunting.

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