Shorebirds | Charadriiformes

Shorebirds are birds classified under order Charadriiformes usually inhabiting wetland areas of both freshwater and saltwater. This is where they spend most of their time and life whether it is for food, breeding, or nesting. Since they can be found in all the seven continents, they differ largely in physical attributes with different shorebirds having unique body shapes, body length, and leg length. Most Charadriiformes migrate from one region to another. Additionally, they are normally found in large flocks either during the cold seasons or breeding. These birds feed on invertebrates and plant materials like algae. Even though the Charadriiformes are wild birds, they are usually hunted for their meat, oil, eggs, and feathers.

Where do shorebirds live?

Shorebirds typically live in a variety of environments that include the coastal, saline, and freshwater wetlands, as well as flooded agricultural fields. Other environments in which shorebirds live include interior grasslands and the arctic tundra. Shorebirds are known for being migrators and are capable of traveling thousands of miles.

What do shorebirds eat?

Generally, shorebirds eat a range of aquatic insects including water boatmen, backswimmers, giant water bugs, crane flies, and water beetles. Shorebirds also eat crustaceans and other aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates like grasshoppers and earthworms and fishes like smelt or dace. Shorebirds also consume reptiles, amphibians, and plants like grasses and wild berries.

How do shorebirds help the ecosystem?

Shorebirds help the ecosystem by taking the role of being a predator of invertebrates and small vertebrates helping regulate the aquatic, benthic, and infaunal communities. Shorebirds also help the ecosystem by taking the role of cycling as well as transporting nutrients from foraging grounds to roosting and nesting localities.

Shorebirds Guides
Browse through our curated Shorebirds Guides for additional categorizations, tips, details, variations, styles, and histories of Shorebirds. Guides provide additional insights into the unique properties and shared relationships between elements.
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13.4”-17.7” | 34-45 cm
26.8”-29.9” | 68-76 cm (Wingspan)
15.75”-20.1” | 40-51 cm
.6-.93 lb | .27-.42 kg
9-15 years
American Avocet
45.000
76.000
51.000
0.420
15.00
2940
GUIDE
3D
American Avocet
47.2”-57” | 120-145 cm
51.2”-65” | 130-165 cm (Wingspan)
47.2”-57” | 120-145 cm
4.85-7.94 lb | 2.2-3.6 kg
20-50 years
American Flamingo
145.000
165.000
145.000
3.600
50.00
8100
GUIDE
3D
American Flamingo
9.8”-11” | 25-28 cm
31.9”-35” | 81-89 cm (Wingspan)
15.75”-17.3” | 40-44 cm
.88-1.54 lb | .4-.7 kg
10-17 years
American Oystercatcher
28.000
89.000
44.000
0.700
17.00
3100
GUIDE
3D
American Oystercatcher
12.6”-15” | 32-38 cm
27.6”-32.3” | 70-82 cm (Wingspan)
14.6”-17.3” | 37-44 cm
.42-.88 lb | .19-.4 kg
10-24 years
Black-Tailed Godwit
38.000
82.000
44.000
0.400
24.00
1000
GUIDE
3D
Black-Tailed Godwit
15.75”-19.1” | 40-48.5 cm
28”-32.7” | 71-83 cm (Wingspan)
13”-15.75” | 33-40 cm
.33-.44 lb | .15-.2 kg
10-20 years
Black-Winged Stilt
48.500
83.000
40.000
0.200
20.00
1150
GUIDE
3D
Black-Winged Stilt
4.5”-5.7” | 11.5-14.5 cm
13.8”-15.75” | 35-40 cm (Wingspan)
7.5”-9.4” | 19-24 cm
.09-.13 lb | .04-.06 kg
10-15 years
Common Sandpiper
14.500
40.000
24.000
0.060
15.00
5700
GUIDE
3D
Common Sandpiper
4.7”-5.3” | 12-13.5 cm
15.75”-18.5” | 40-47 cm (Wingspan)
9.8”-11” | 25-28 cm
.18-.4 lb | .08-.18 kg
10-18 years
Common Snipe
13.500
47.000
28.000
0.180
18.00
6500
GUIDE
3D
Common Snipe
7.5”-8.7” | 19-22 cm
21.7”-23.6” | 55-60 cm (Wingspan)
13”-15” | 33-38 cm
.51-.93 lb | .23-.42 kg
10-15.5 years
Eurasian Woodcock
22.000
60.000
38.000
0.420
15.50
2000
GUIDE
3D
Eurasian Woodcock
43.3”-59” | 110-150 cm
55.1”-66.9” | 140-170 cm (Wingspan)
43.3”-59” | 110-150 cm
4.4-9.9 lb | 2-4.5 kg
30-60 years
Greater Flamingo
150.000
170.000
150.000
4.500
60.00
18300
GUIDE
3D
Greater Flamingo
5.7”-6.7” | 14.5-17 cm
18.9”-20.1” | 48-51 cm (Wingspan)
9.1”-10.6” | 23-27 cm
.18-.26 lb | .08-.12 kg
13-15 years
Grey-Tailed Tattler
17.000
51.000
27.000
0.120
15.00
140
GUIDE
3D
Grey-Tailed Tattler
7.7”-8.5” | 19.5-21.5 cm
27.6”-29.5” | 70-75 cm (Wingspan)
15”-16.5” | 38-42 cm
.6-.71 lb | .27-.32 kg
15-26 years
Ibisbill
21.500
75.000
42.000
0.320
26.00
70
GUIDE
3D
Ibisbill
5.9”-7.9” | 15-20 cm
18.1”-18.9” | 46-48 cm (Wingspan)
7.9”-10.6” | 20-27 cm
.17-.28 lb | .075-.128 kg
10-12 years
Killdeer
20.000
48.000
27.000
0.128
12.00
42250
GUIDE
3D
Killdeer
5.1”-7.3” | 13-18.5 cm
18.9”-20.1” | 48-51 cm (Wingspan)
6.7”-9.4” | 17-24 cm
.19-.32 lb | .087-.145 kg
3-6.5 years
Northern Jacana
18.500
51.000
24.000
0.145
6.50
2950
GUIDE
3D
Northern Jacana
5.5”-7.1” | 14-18 cm
11”-14.2” | 28-36 cm (Wingspan)
5.9”-7.5” | 15-19 cm
.09-.21 lb | .04-.095 kg
3-13.5 years
Plains Wanderer
18.000
36.000
19.000
0.095
13.50
1140
GUIDE
3D
Plains Wanderer
4.3”-4.9” | 11-12.5 cm
18.9”-22.4” | 48-57 cm (Wingspan)
6.7”-7.9” | 17-20 cm
.11-.17 lb | .05-.075 kg
5-10 years
Ringed Plover
12.500
57.000
20.000
0.075
10.00
2700
GUIDE
3D
Ringed Plover
6.7”-9.25” | 17-23.5 cm
17.7”-22” | 45-56 cm (Wingspan)
9.1”-12.6” | 23-32 cm
.14-.39 lb | .065-.154 kg
7-13 years
Short-Billed Dowitcher
23.500
56.000
32.000
0.154
13.00
1250
GUIDE
3D
Short-Billed Dowitcher
12.2”-14.8” | 31-37.5 cm
22”-27.6” | 56-70 cm (Wingspan)
12.6”-15” | 32-38 cm
.55-.94 lb | .25-.425 kg
10-13 years
Southern Lapwing
37.500
70.000
38.000
0.425
13.00
4700
GUIDE
3D
Southern Lapwing
9.6”-11.4” | 24.5-29 cm
15.75”-20.1” | 40-51 cm (Wingspan)
8.3”-9.8” | 21-25 cm
.19-.32 lb | .085-.145 kg
3-6.5 years
Wattled Jacana
29.000
51.000
25.000
0.145
6.50
2000
GUIDE
3D
Wattled Jacana
Southern Lapwing (Vanellus chilensis)
Comparison illustration of the size of a Southern Lapwing to other species of shorebirds

The Southern Lapwing (Vanellus chilensis) is a common and widespread shorebird throughout South America. Their preferred habitats are lakes and river banks and open grasslands, and after the breeding season, they travel to wetlands and seasonally-flooded tropical grasslands. They are mainly brown-gray with a bronze glossing on the shoulders. The head is gray with a black forehead and throat patch that extends to the black breast, and a white border separates the face from the head and crest. The underparts are white, and the eye ring, legs, and bill are pink. They mostly eat insects and other small vertebrates using a run-and-wait hunting technique.

The Southern Lapwing has a wingspan in the range of 22”-27.6” (56-70 cm) and total weight of .55-.94 lb (.25-.425 kg). The body of the Southern Lapwing has an overall length between 12.6”-15” (32-38 cm), body width of 3.3”-4.1” (8.5-10.5 cm), and standing height of roughly 12.2”-14.8” (31-37.5 cm). The typical lifespan of the Southern Lapwing is between 10-13 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Southern Lapwing in various poses with dimensions
The Southern Lapwing (Vanellus chilensis) is a common and widespread shorebird throughout South America. Their preferred habitats are lakes and river banks and open grasslands, and after the breeding season, they travel to wetlands and seasonally-flooded tropical grasslands.

The Southern Lapwing has a wingspan in the range of 22”-27.6” (56-70 cm) and total weight of .55-.94 lb (.25-.425 kg). The body of the Southern Lapwing has an overall length between 12.6”-15” (32-38 cm), body width of 3.3”-4.1” (8.5-10.5 cm), and standing height of roughly 12.2”-14.8” (31-37.5 cm). The typical lifespan of the Southern Lapwing is between 10-13 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Southern Lapwing in various poses with dimensions
Southern Lapwing (Vanellus chilensis)
Height:
12.2”-14.8” | 31-37.5 cm
Width:
22”-27.6” | 56-70 cm (Wingspan)
Length:
12.6”-15” | 32-38 cm
Depth:
Weight:
.55-.94 lb | .25-.425 kg
Area:

Body Width: 3.3”-4.1” | 8.5-10.5 cm

Scientific Name
Vanellus chilensis
Lifespan
10-13 years

Drawings include:

Southern Lapwing side view, front, flying (assorted)

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Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Scale illustration of an average Common Sandpiper compared to other shorebird species

The Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) is a small Palearctic shorebird and a sister species of the Spotted Sandpiper. They like to breed in temperate and subtropical Europe and Asia, and during migration season the species travels to Africa, southern Asia, and Australia. Using sight, they forage for food on the ground or in shallow water, and they mainly eat insects, crustaceans, and other invertebrates. They are characterized by their gray-brown coloration with white underparts, short and dark-yellowish legs and feet, and a pale bill with a dark tip. In the winter they have a duller plumage.

The Common Sandpiper has a wingspan in the range of 13.8”-15.75” (35-40 cm) and total weight of .09-.13 lb (.04-.06 kg). The body of the Common Sandpiper has an overall length between 7.5”-9.4” (19-24 cm), body width of 2.2”-2.75” (5.5-7 cm), and standing height of roughly 4.5”-5.7” (11.5-14.5 cm). The typical lifespan of the Common Sandpiper is between 10-15 years.

Series of measured illustrations of the Common Sandpiper
The Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) is a small Palearctic shorebird and a sister species of the Spotted Sandpiper. They like to breed in temperate and subtropical Europe and Asia, and during migration season the species travels to Africa, southern Asia, and Australia.

The Common Sandpiper has a wingspan in the range of 13.8”-15.75” (35-40 cm) and total weight of .09-.13 lb (.04-.06 kg). The body of the Common Sandpiper has an overall length between 7.5”-9.4” (19-24 cm), body width of 2.2”-2.75” (5.5-7 cm), and standing height of roughly 4.5”-5.7” (11.5-14.5 cm). The typical lifespan of the Common Sandpiper is between 10-15 years.

Series of measured illustrations of the Common Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Height:
4.5”-5.7” | 11.5-14.5 cm
Width:
13.8”-15.75” | 35-40 cm (Wingspan)
Length:
7.5”-9.4” | 19-24 cm
Depth:
Weight:
.09-.13 lb | .04-.06 kg
Area:

Body Width: 2.2”-2.75” | 5.5-7 cm

Scientific Name
Actitis hypoleucos
Lifespan
10-15 years

Drawings include:

Common Sandpiper side view, front, flying (assorted)

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Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
Scale illustration of an average Ringed Plover compared to other shorebird species

The Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula) is a small wading bird that breeds in Arctic Eurasia. They are gray-brown with a white belly and a white breast with one black neckband. The forehead is white with a black mask around the eyes and a short orange and black bill. The legs are also orange with webbing on the outer two toes. Their preferred habitat is open ground on beaches or flats, and during migratory periods they travel to coastal areas south to Africa. On beaches and tidal flats the Ringed Plover forages for insects, crustaceans, and worms.

The Ringed Plover has a wingspan in the range of 18.9”-22.4” (48-57 cm) and total weight of .11-.17 lb (.05-.075 kg). The body of the Ringed Plover has an overall length between 6.7”-7.9” (17-20 cm), body width of 2.2”-2.6” (5.5-6.5 cm), and standing height of roughly 4.3”-4.9” (11-12.5 cm). The typical lifespan of the Ringed Plover is between 5-10 years.

Series of measured illustrations of the Ringed Plover
The Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula) is a small wading bird that breeds in Arctic Eurasia. They are gray-brown with a white belly and a white breast with one black neckband. The forehead is white with a black mask around the eyes and a short orange and black bill. The legs are also orange.

The Ringed Plover has a wingspan in the range of 18.9”-22.4” (48-57 cm) and total weight of .11-.17 lb (.05-.075 kg). The body of the Ringed Plover has an overall length between 6.7”-7.9” (17-20 cm), body width of 2.2”-2.6” (5.5-6.5 cm), and standing height of roughly 4.3”-4.9” (11-12.5 cm). The typical lifespan of the Ringed Plover is between 5-10 years.

Series of measured illustrations of the Ringed Plover
Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
Height:
4.3”-4.9” | 11-12.5 cm
Width:
18.9”-22.4” | 48-57 cm (Wingspan)
Length:
6.7”-7.9” | 17-20 cm
Depth:
Weight:
.11-.17 lb | .05-.075 kg
Area:

Body Width: 2.2”-2.6” | 5.5-6.5 cm

Scientific Name
Charadrius hiaticula
Lifespan
5-10 years

Drawings include:

Ringed Plover side view, front, flying (assorted)

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Northern Jacana (Jacana spinosa)
Comparison drawing of the Northern Jacana compared to other shorebirds

The Northern Jacana (Jacana spinosa) is a wetland bird that breeds from coastal Mexico to western Panama, and on Cuba, Jamaica, and the Caribbean. They can sometimes be found in Texas and Arizona in the United States. Their large feet and claws allow them to walk on floating vegetation in shallow lakes. Other characteristics are its dark brown body with black head and neck, bill with yellow patches, forehead with a yellow wattle, and bill with a white base. They consume insects on the surface of vegetation, and they also eat snails, worms, small crabs, fish, mollusks, and seeds.

The Northern Jacana has a wingspan in the range of 18.9”-20.1” (48-51 cm) and total weight of .19-.32 lb (.087-.145 kg). The body of the Northern Jacana has an overall length between 6.7”-9.4” (17-24 cm), body width of 1.6”-2.4” (4-6 cm), and standing height of roughly 5.1”-7.3” (13-18.5 cm). The typical lifespan of the Northern Jacana is between 3-6.5 years.

Set of scaled side and front drawings of the Northern Jacana
The Northern Jacana (Jacana spinosa) is a wetland bird that breeds from coastal Mexico to western Panama, and on Cuba, Jamaica, and the Caribbean. They can sometimes be found in Texas and Arizona in the United States. Their large feet and claws allow them to walk on floating vegetation.

The Northern Jacana has a wingspan in the range of 18.9”-20.1” (48-51 cm) and total weight of .19-.32 lb (.087-.145 kg). The body of the Northern Jacana has an overall length between 6.7”-9.4” (17-24 cm), body width of 1.6”-2.4” (4-6 cm), and standing height of roughly 5.1”-7.3” (13-18.5 cm). The typical lifespan of the Northern Jacana is between 3-6.5 years.

Set of scaled side and front drawings of the Northern Jacana
Northern Jacana (Jacana spinosa)
Height:
5.1”-7.3” | 13-18.5 cm
Width:
18.9”-20.1” | 48-51 cm (Wingspan)
Length:
6.7”-9.4” | 17-24 cm
Depth:
Weight:
.19-.32 lb | .087-.145 kg
Area:

Body Width: 1.6”-2.4” | 4-6 cm

Scientific Name
Jacana spinosa
Lifespan
3-6.5 years

Drawings include:

Northern Jacana side view, front, flying (assorted)

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American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus)
Scale illustration of an average American Oystercatcher compared to other shorebird species

The American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) is a shorebird found in coastal habitats; during migration season, they move to mud or salt flats that are exposed by the tide. They are found on the Atlantic coast of North America from New England to northern Florida, and also on the Gulf coast and Pacific coast of California, Mexico, Central America, Peru, and Chile. Their diet consists of marine invertebrates, and their large, heavy beaks aid in prying open bivalve mollusks like oysters. Physically the American Oystercatcher has a bright orange beak, black and white plumage, and yellow irises with orange orbital rings.

The American Oystercatcher has a wingspan in the range of 31.9”-35” (81-89 cm) and total weight of .88-1.54 lb (.4-.7 kg). The body of the American Oystercatcher has an overall length between 15.75”-17.3” (40-44 cm), body width of 3.9”-4.7” (10-12 cm), and standing height of roughly 9.8”-11” (25-28 cm). The typical lifespan of the American Oystercatcher is between 10-17 years.

Series of measured illustrations of the American Oystercatcher
The American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) is a shorebird found in coastal habitats; during migration season, they move to mud or salt flats that are exposed by the tide. They are found on the Atlantic coast of North America from New England to northern Florida, and also on the Gulf coast.

The American Oystercatcher has a wingspan in the range of 31.9”-35” (81-89 cm) and total weight of .88-1.54 lb (.4-.7 kg). The body of the American Oystercatcher has an overall length between 15.75”-17.3” (40-44 cm), body width of 3.9”-4.7” (10-12 cm), and standing height of roughly 9.8”-11” (25-28 cm). The typical lifespan of the American Oystercatcher is between 10-17 years.

Series of measured illustrations of the American Oystercatcher
American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus)
Height:
9.8”-11” | 25-28 cm
Width:
31.9”-35” | 81-89 cm (Wingspan)
Length:
15.75”-17.3” | 40-44 cm
Depth:
Weight:
.88-1.54 lb | .4-.7 kg
Area:

Body Width: 3.9”-4.7” | 10-12 cm

Scientific Name
Haematopus palliatus
Lifespan
10-17 years

Drawings include:

American Oystercatcher side view, front, flying (assorted)

Details & Downloads

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