US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in The Wilson Journal of Ornithology (2009) 121(2):328–337.


We studied Rock Sandpiper (Calidris ptilocnemis) breeding behavior and monitored reproductive success from 1998 to 2005 on the Yukon-Kuskokwim River Delta, Alaska, USA. We banded 24 adults and monitored 45 nests. Annual return rate of adults ranged between 67 and 100%. Six pairs of Rock Sandpipers bred at our study site for ≥ 2 years, and among these we did not observe mate change (i.e., when both members of a pair returned and each mated with a new individual). Nests were typically initiated by mid-May and 53% of females laid second clutches if first clutches were lost through mid-June. Males regularly incubated clutches during the morning (0800–1259 hrs AKDT) and afternoon (1300–1759 hrs) and rarely during the evening (1800– 2300 hrs), whereas female incubation was relatively consistent throughout the day. Apparent nest success (percent of known nests successfully hatching > 1 chick) among first and second nests was 19 and 44%, respectively (n = 45). A minimum of 44% of hatching nests fledged at least one young. Males cared for young but half of females deserted mate and brood 1–7 days post-hatch. This first description of North American Rock Sandpiper breeding behavior from a color-marked population complements previous work on this species on the Chukotsky Peninsula, Russia.