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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
3D
Wattled Jacana
Plains Wanderer (Pedionomus torquatus)
Comparison illustration of the size of a Plains Wanderer to other species of shorebirds

The Plains-Wanderer (Pedionomus torquatus) is a bird endemic to Australia, and most of the remaining population is found in the Riverina region of New South Wales. The bird is described to be quail-like. Adult males are light brown with fawn-white underparts with black crescents; adult females are larger than males, and they have a distinctive white-spotted black collar. Their camouflage allows them to be well hidden, and they will run as opposed to flying. The population has been declining due to the conversion of native grasslands and with predation of the species by the fox.

The Plains Wanderer has a wingspan in the range of 11”-14.2” (28-36 cm) and total weight of .09-.21 lb (.04-.095 kg). The body of the Plains Wanderer has an overall length between 5.9”-7.5” (15-19 cm), body width of 2”-2.6” (5-6.5 cm), and standing height of roughly 5.5”-7.1” (14-18 cm). The typical lifespan of the Plains Wanderer is between 3-13.5 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Plains Wanderer in various poses with dimensions
The Plains-Wanderer (Pedionomus torquatus) is a bird endemic to Australia, and most of the remaining population is found in the Riverina region of New South Wales. The bird is described to be quail-like. Adult males are light brown with fawn-white underparts with black crescents.

The Plains Wanderer has a wingspan in the range of 11”-14.2” (28-36 cm) and total weight of .09-.21 lb (.04-.095 kg). The body of the Plains Wanderer has an overall length between 5.9”-7.5” (15-19 cm), body width of 2”-2.6” (5-6.5 cm), and standing height of roughly 5.5”-7.1” (14-18 cm). The typical lifespan of the Plains Wanderer is between 3-13.5 years.

Scaled collection of drawings of Plains Wanderer in various poses with dimensions
Plains Wanderer (Pedionomus torquatus)
Height:
5.5”-7.1” | 14-18 cm
Width:
11”-14.2” | 28-36 cm (Wingspan)
Length:
5.9”-7.5” | 15-19 cm
Depth:
Weight:
.09-.21 lb | .04-.095 kg
Area:

Body Width: 2”-2.6” | 5-6.5 cm

Scientific Name
Pedionomus torquatus
Lifespan
3-13.5 years

Drawings include:

Plains Wanderer 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)

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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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Short-Billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus)
Comparison drawing of the Short-billed Dowitcher compared to other shorebirds

The Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus) is a migratory shorebird that lives in North America, Central America, the Carribbean, and northern South America. In the north the species prefers to live in the tundra, and in the south they occupy ponds and mudflats. They eat mostly invertebrates which are obtained by rapidly probing their bills in a sewing fashion into mud. Physically, the adult Short-billed Dowitcher is dark brown on top and red underneath. The tail is black and white with a barred pattern, and the legs are yellow. In winter the plumage is mostly gray.

The Short-billed Dowitcher has a wingspan in the range of 17.7”-22” (45-56 cm) and total weight of .14-.39 lb (.065-.154 kg). The body of the Short-billed Dowitcher has an overall length between 9.1”-12.6” (23-32 cm), body width of 2.75”-3.9” (7-10 cm), and standing height of roughly 6.7”-9.25” (17-23.5 cm). The typical lifespan of the Short-billed Dowitcher is between 7-13 years.

Set of scaled side and front drawings of the Short-billed Dowitcher
The Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus) is a migratory shorebird that lives in North America, Central America, the Carribbean, and northern South America. In the north the species prefers to live in the tundra, and in the south they occupy ponds and mudflats.

The Short-billed Dowitcher has a wingspan in the range of 17.7”-22” (45-56 cm) and total weight of .14-.39 lb (.065-.154 kg). The body of the Short-billed Dowitcher has an overall length between 9.1”-12.6” (23-32 cm), body width of 2.75”-3.9” (7-10 cm), and standing height of roughly 6.7”-9.25” (17-23.5 cm). The typical lifespan of the Short-billed Dowitcher is between 7-13 years.

Set of scaled side and front drawings of the Short-billed Dowitcher
Short-Billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus)
Height:
6.7”-9.25” | 17-23.5 cm
Width:
17.7”-22” | 45-56 cm (Wingspan)
Length:
9.1”-12.6” | 23-32 cm
Depth:
Weight:
.14-.39 lb | .065-.154 kg
Area:

Body Width: 2.75”-3.9” | 7-10 cm

Scientific Name
Limnodromus griseus
Lifespan
7-13 years

Drawings include:

Short-billed Dowitcher side view, front, flying (assorted)

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American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)
Comparison drawing of the American Avocet compared to other shorebirds

The American Avocet (Recurvirostra Americana) is a shorebird in the avocet and stilt family. They have a black bill that curves slightly upward and a small rounded head; like other shorebirds, the American Avocet has long and slender legs and slightly webbed feet. The coloration of the legs is a pastel gray-blue, and the plumage is black and white on the back and white on the underbelly. During breeding season the plumage is orange on the head and neck. The species likes to inhabit marshes, beaches, prairie ponds, and shallow lakes in the American Midwest, and in the winter they migrate to coastal regions along the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean.

The American Avocet has a wingspan in the range of 26.8”-29.9” (68-76 cm) and total weight of .6-.93 lb (.27-.42 kg). The body of the American Avocet has an overall length between 15.75”-20.1” (40-51 cm), body width of 3.9”-5.1” (10-13 cm), and standing height of roughly 13.4”-17.7” (34-45 cm). The typical lifespan of the American Avocet is between 9-15 years.

Set of scaled side and front drawings of the American Avocet
The American Avocet (Recurvirostra Americana) is a shorebird in the avocet and stilt family. They have a black bill that curves slightly upward and a small rounded head; like other shorebirds, the American Avocet has long and slender legs and slightly webbed feet.

The American Avocet has a wingspan in the range of 26.8”-29.9” (68-76 cm) and total weight of .6-.93 lb (.27-.42 kg). The body of the American Avocet has an overall length between 15.75”-20.1” (40-51 cm), body width of 3.9”-5.1” (10-13 cm), and standing height of roughly 13.4”-17.7” (34-45 cm). The typical lifespan of the American Avocet is between 9-15 years.

Set of scaled side and front drawings of the American Avocet
American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana)
Height:
13.4”-17.7” | 34-45 cm
Width:
26.8”-29.9” | 68-76 cm (Wingspan)
Length:
15.75”-20.1” | 40-51 cm
Depth:
Weight:
.6-.93 lb | .27-.42 kg
Area:

Body Width: 3.9”-5.1” | 10-13 cm

Scientific Name
Recurvirostra americana
Lifespan
9-15 years

Drawings include:

American Avocet side view, front, flying (assorted)

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