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#ABArare – Marsh Sandpiper – California


On the evening of 4/9, Roger Muskat discovered an ABA Code 5 Marsh Sandpiper in Solano County, California. The bird was found again the next day early in the morning, but has proven to be intermittent, finally showing again on the evening of 4/10. This is the second record for California and only the second record of the species in the ABA Area away from Alaska.

Marsh Sandpiper sp14b

Marsh Sandpiper sp14fphotos by John Sterling, used with permission.

The bird was seen on South Liberty Island Road, just north of the town of Rio Vista. On the California-Central Valley listserv, John Sterling gives specific directions as follows:

Take Hwy 113 between Hwy 12 to the south and Hwy 80 to the north. Take Binghamton Road east from Hwy 113, this road eventually becomes Swan Road. Take Swan Road to the end where it intersects with S. Liberty Island Road. Turn right (south).
It was in a canal with a lot of mudflat where Liberty Island Road makes a 90 degree turn to the east. Park at that turn where there is some parking available.

Marsh Sandpiper is extremely rare in the ABA Area, and known from only about 10 records, most of which come from the central and western Aleutians and the Pribilofs. Outside of the ABA Area, the species is known from at least 2 records from Hawaii and one from Baja California, Mexico (2011). Notably, a Marsh Sandpiper found and photographed at the northern Salton Sea last fall was California’s first, and the the first ABA Area record away from Alaska.

Perhaps most interesting is that this individual represents the first spring record for the ABA Area. According to Howell et al, Marsh Sandpiper distribution is too westerly and migration is too much overland to contribute to the spring drift migration of vagrant shorebirds in the western Alaskan islands. Which suggests that this individual was likely one that overwintered in the New World.


Howell, Steve N. G., Ian Lewington, and Will Russell. 2014. Rare Birds of North America: Princeton UP.

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Nate Swick

Nate Swick

Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog. A long-time member of the bird blogosphere, Nate has been writing about birds and birding at The Drinking Bird since 2007, but can also be found writing regularly at 10,000 Birds. In the non-digital world, he's an environmental educator and interpretive naturalist. He is also the author of Birding for the Curious. Nate lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children, who are not yet aware that they are being groomed to be birders.
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