Sandpiper, any one of a large group of shorebirds. Sandpipers breed in the northern parts of the Northern Hemisphere. For the winter they migrate far south of their breeding grounds. Some species winter in the Southern Hemisphere. They are from 5 to 15 inches (13–38 cm) long, depending on the species, and have rather long legs and bills. Sandpipers are mostly brown and gray with light underparts. Their coloring blends with that of the shore where they live in large flocks. These birds receive their name from the piping sound they make as they run along beaches in search of food. They eat mostly insects and other small invertebrates.

Most species make their nests in grasslined hollows on the ground. In general, four eggs are laid. The eggs vary in color, depending on the species, but most are speckled with brown.

The spotted sandpiper, the most widespread North American species, is also called “teeter-tail” from its habit of wagging its tail and rump while walking along the water's edge. Other North American species include the least sandpiper, the pectoral sandpiper, the upland sandpiper (also called upland plover), and the sanderling.

Sandpipers are of the family Scolopacidae. The spotted sandpiper is Actitis macularia; the least sandpiper, Calidris minutilla; the pectoral sandpiper, C. melanotos; the upland sandpiper, Bartramia longicauda.

The spotted sandpiperThe spotted sandpiper wags its tail and rump while walking along the water's edge.