Movement and habitat use of non-breeding Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla) at the Banco dos Cajuais in Northeast Brazil

  • March 25, 2022
  • by Rebeca C. Linhart, Diana J. Hamilton, Julie Paquet, J. Onofre N. Monteiro, Gabriela P. Ramires & Jason A. Mobley


Semipalmated sandpipers are Arctic breeding shorebirds that migrate to South America during the non-breeding season. Little work has been done to understand the daily movements, foraging habits and metabolic state of this species on stationary nonbreeding grounds. Our work was conducted at the Banco dos Cajuais Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) site in Northeast Brazil. We captured semipalmated sandpipers in February and March 2019 and 2020 and attached nanotags to monitor their daily movements. Blood samples were taken to measure plasma triglycerides (an index of fattening rate). We also conducted behavioral observations on foraging birds. Using tracking data we determined that most semipalmated sandpipers appeared to use sunrise/sunset as an indicator for movement between salina and tidal flat habitats, and a smaller portion used tidal height. We found birds spent similar amounts of time foraging on tidal flats and in salinas, though different foraging modes were used. Plasma triglyceride measures suggest semipalmated sandpipers had not started preparing to migrate when sampled. We successfully tracked semipalmated sandpipers to North America during northward migration in 2020, detecting eight within the United States. Tracking results suggest many stopped elsewhere in South America to fuel for migration, though some may have fueled at the Banco dos Cajuais. By demonstrating substantial use of both natural and altered habitats in the region by migrant semipalmated sandpipers, these data highlight the need for broader conservation measures throughout coastal regions of South America.

Publication Date
March 25, 2022