Sandpipers (Family Scolopacidae)
The Scolopacidae are a large family of waders, (known as shorebirds
in North America). Many of the smaller species are often called
"sandpipers", especially members of Genera Calidris, Tringa and Actitis.
Other well-known groups include curlews and snipes. The majority of
species eat small invertebrates picked out of the mud or soil. Different
lengths of bills enable different species to feed in the same habitat,
particularly on the coast, without direct competition for food.
Waders have long bodies and legs, and narrow wings. Most species
have a narrow bill, but otherwise the form and length are quite variable.
The bills are sensitive, allowing the birds to feel the mud and sand as they
probe for food. Waders range in size from the least sandpiper, at around
11 centimetres in length, to the eastern curlew, at 66 centimetres in
length. They generally have dull plumage, with cryptic brown, grey, or
streaked patterns, although some display brighter colours during the
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