Upland Sandpiper - Bartramia longicauda
Ranges from 27.9 to 32.5 cm in size and is the most terrestrial of North American shorebirds. The sexes are outwardly alike; females average slightly larger than males (Forbush 1925, Prater et al. 1977). Breeding adults are overall scaly-brown in appearance above with a long slender neck, small rounded head, and relatively long tail. The upper neck is buff-streaked brown with sharply defined V-shaped markings becoming more barred on the lower breast and flanks. The throat and abdomen are white. The eye is large with a dark iris. The bill is short, slightly decurved and dusky at the tip. The tail feathers are barred, dark brown with outer tertials pale orange-brown basally, tipped with white. Legs and feet are yellow-grey (Forbush 1925, Roberts 1955, Prater et al. 1977). Adults captured at the nest may be sexed by wing chord and tail length. This method of sex determination is estimated to be 88.3% accurate for mated pairs (Peterson 1983). Downy young are a fine, mixed pattern of black, white and buff yellowish-brown above. A black stripe runs from the base of the bill over the top of the head. There is a band of buff or yellowish-brown across the upper breast. The sides of the head, chin and underparts are generally white (Forbush 1925). Juveniles resemble adults, but the upperparts are darker and scalier with the buffy color of the neck, breast and wings much deeper and the streaks of the foreneck and breast less distinct. The wing coverts have clear buffy edges and dark submarginal lines. The scapulars are uniformly dark with narrow, defined buff-white fringes. The tail feathers are notched with pale buff. Following the first prenuptial molt the young become indistinguishable from adults (Forbush 1925, Hayman et al. 1986). Winter plumage is similar to that of the breeding adult, but paler (Forbush 1925).
VOCALIZATIONS: The unique vocalizations include a rapid, liquid "quip-ip-ip-ip
" series of alarm notes and a penetrating "whip-whee-ee-you windy
" whistle (Johnsgard 1981).
NESTS: The nest is a shallow depression in the ground approximately 10 to 13 cm in diameter and five cm deep, lined with pieces of dry grass (Bent 1929). Nests are usually well hidden, frequently by vegetation that hangs over the nest hiding it from above (Johnsgard 1981). The eggs are cinnamon to pale olive-buff or greenish-white in color, spotted with brown and underlaying spots of ecru or pale grey. Clutch size is normally four eggs, sometimes three, and rarely five (Bent 1929).
For a comprehensive review of the conservation status, habitat use, and ecology of this and other Montana bird species, please see Marks et al. 2016, Birds of Montana.
The behavioral habit of momentarily holding wings straight up when alighting (Forbush 1925) and the distinctive calls are diagnostic (Johnsgard 1981).
Western Hemisphere Range
eBird Occurrence Map
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Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations:
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Map Help and Descriptions
(direct evidence "B")
(indirect evidence "b")
No evidence of Breeding
(regular observations "W")
(at least one obs. "w")
(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
In general, uses dry grasslands with low to moderate forb cover, low woody cover, moderate grass cover, moderate to high litter cover, and little bare ground (Houston and Bowen 2001).
Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
- Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
How Associations Were Made
We associated the use and habitat quality (common or occasional) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for
vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
- Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2012, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
- Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species' range and habitat requirements;
- Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point observation database associated with each ecological system;
- Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of "observations versus availability of habitat".
Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.
In general, species were listed as associated with an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.
However, species were not listed as associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if
point observations were associated with that system.
Common versus occasional association with an ecological system was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species as represented in scientific literature.
The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignment of common versus occasional association.
If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact the Montana Natural Heritage Program's Senior Zoologist.
Suggested Uses and Limitations
Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.
These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: http://mtnhp.org/requests/default.asp
) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.
Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.
Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.
Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).
Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species' known geographic range.
- Adams, R.A. 2003. Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado. 289 p.
- Dobkin, D. S. 1992. Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34. Missoula, MT.
- Foresman, K.R. 2012. Mammals of Montana. Second edition. Mountain Press Publishing, Missoula, Montana. 429 pp.
- Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998. Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates. Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT. 1302 p.
- Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young. 1999. Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32. 72 p.
- Maxell, B.A. 2000. Management of Montana's amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species. Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1. Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana. 161 p.
- Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath. 2004. Amphibians and reptiles of Montana. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.
- Commonly Associated with these Ecological Systems
Forest and Woodland Systems
Human Land Use
Recently Disturbed or Modified
Shrubland, Steppe and Savanna Systems
Sparse and Barren Systems
Wetland and Riparian Systems
- Occasionally Associated with these Ecological Systems
Forest and Woodland Systems
Recently Disturbed or Modified
Shrubland, Steppe and Savanna Systems
Prefers shorter vegetation for foraging. Foods taken: 95 to 97% small invertebrates, 3 to 5% weed seeds (Houston and Bowen 2001).
The Upland Sandpiper is an indicator of native prairies, and has been declining in range and abundance. It has not been seen in the Bozeman area since 1908.
Nests on ground; uses both native and cultivated vegetation for nest site. Eggs are oval to subelliptical in shape; color light pinkish cinnamon, pale pinkish buff, pale olive buff, to greenish white, to pale stone. Almost evenly spotted. Clutch size typically 4 eggs (Houston and Bowen 2001). Eggs dates are from May 25 to mid-July. Downy young are reported from June 6 to late July.
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Bent, A. C. 1929. Life histories of North American shorebirds (Part II). U.S. National Museum Bulletin 146. Washington, D.C.
- Forbush, E. H. 1925. Birds of Massachusetts and other New England states. Part 1: Water birds, marsh birds and shore birds. Massachusetts Department of Agriculture, Boston, Massachusetts. 486 pp.
- Hayman, P., J. Marchant, and T. Prater. 1986. Shorebirds: an identification guide to the waders of the world. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston. 412 pp.
- Johnsgard, P. 1981. The Plovers, Sandpipers, and Snipes of the World. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, Nebraska. 493 pp.
- Marks, J.S., P. Hendricks, and D. Casey. 2016. Birds of Montana. Arrington, VA. Buteo Books. 659 pages.
- Peterson, A.T. 1983. Techniques for aging and sexing upland sandpipers (Bartramia longicauda). Abstract. Wader Study Group 39:60.
- Prater, A. J., J. H. Marchant, and J. Vuorinen. 1977. Guide to the identificaton and aging of Holarctic waders. Field Guide 17. British Trust for Ornithology, Tring, Herts, England.
- Roberts, T. S. 1955. A manual for the identification of the birds of Minnesota and neighboring states. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota. 738 pp.
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
Do you know of a citation we're missing?
- American Ornithologists’ Union [AOU]. 1998. Check-list of North American birds, 7th edition. American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, D.C. 829 p.
- Bechard, Mark. 1986. Early Montana naturalists and oologists. Blue Jay. 44(1):20-30.
- Bowen, B.S. and A.D. Kruse. 1993. Effects of grazing on nesting by Upland Sandpipers in southcentral North Dakota. J. Wildl. Manage. 57(2): 291-301.
- Bramblett, Robert G., and Alexander V. Zale. 2002. Montana Prairie Riparian Native Species Report. Montana Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, Montana State University - Bozeman.
- Casey, D. 2005. Rocky Mountain Front avian inventory. Final report. Prepared for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and The Nature Conservancy by the American Bird Conservancy, Kalispell, Montana.
- Colwell, M.A. and L.W. Oring. 1990. Nest site characteristics of prairie shorebirds. Can. J. Zool. 68: 297-302.
- Dobkin, D. S. 1992. Neotropical migrant landbirds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. U.S.D.A. For. Serv. N. Region Publ. R1-93-34. Missoula, Mont.
- Dobkin, D.S. 1994. Conservation and management of neotropical migrant landbirds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. Univ. Idaho Press, Moscow, Idaho. 220 pp.
- Dood, A.R. 1980. Terry Badlands nongame survey and inventory final report. Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and Bureau of Land Management, Helena, MT. 70 pp.
- ECON, Inc. (Ecological Consulting Service), Helena, MT., 1976, Colstrip 10 x 20 Area wildlife and wildlife habitat annual monitoring report, 1976. Proj. 135-85-A. December 31, 1976.
- Econ, Inc., Helena, MT., 1988, Wildlife monitoring report, 1987 field season, Big Sky Mine. March 1988. In Peabody Mining and Reclamation Plan Big Sky Mine Area B. Vol. 8, cont., Tab 10 - Wildlife Resources. Appendix 10-1, 1987 Annual Wildlife Report.
- Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder’s handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Schuster Inc. New York. 785 pp.
- Fjell, Alan K., and Brian R. Mahan., 1983, Peabody Coal Company Big Sky Mine, Rosebud County, MT. Wildlife monitoring report: 1982 field season. May 1983.
- Gniadek, Steve. 1983. Southwest Glendive Wildlife Baseline Inventory. BLM, Miles City District. 56pp with appendices.
- Godfrey, W. Earl. 1966. The birds of Canada. National Museums of Canada, Ottawa. 428 pp.
- Hendricks, P. 2000. Roadside bird counts on BLM lands in Petroleum and Fergus Counties, Montana. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, MT. 57pp.
- Houston, C. Stuart, and Daniel E. Bowen, Jr. 2001. Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda). Species Account Number 580. The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca, NY: Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology; Retrieved 3/25/2008 from The Birds of North America Online database
- Johnsgard, P.A. 1979. Birds of the Great Plains: breeding species and their distribution. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln. 539 pp.
- Johnsgard, P.A. 1992. Birds of the Rocky Mountains with particular reference to national parks in the northern Rocky Mountain region. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. xi + 504 pp.
- Kantrud, H. A. 1981. Grazing intensity effects on the breeding avifauna of North Dakota native grasslands. Can. Field-Nat. 95:404-417.
- Kantrud, H. A., and K. F. Higgins. 1992. Nest and nest site characteristics of some ground-nesting, non-passerine birds of northern grasslands. Prairie Naturalist 24(2):67-84.
- Kirsch, L.M. and K.F. Higgins. 1976. Upland Sandpiper nesting and management in North Dakota. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 4: 16-20.
- Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Musgrave Lake, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.019. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
- Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2002: Musgrave Lake, Zurich, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.019. May 2003. In 2002 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
- Lenard, S. and P. Hendricks. 2005. Birds of selected grassland and riparian plots along the Rocky Mountain Front. Montana Natural Heritage Program for US Fish and Wildlife Service and The Nature Conservancy. 17pp + maps.
- Lenard, S., J. Carlson, J. Ellis, C. Jones, and C. Tilly. 2003. P. D. Skaar’s Montana bird distribution, 6th edition. Montana Audubon, Helena, MT. 144 pp.
- Matthews, W.L. 1980a. Wibaux-Beach comparison study: Sydney, Glendive and Plevna Study Areas. Bureau of Land Management, Miles City, MT. 50 p.
- Matthews, W.L. 1981. Broadus-Pumpkin Creek baseline inventory - wildlife. Bureau of Land Management, Miles City, MT. 83 p.
- Montana Bird Distribution Committee. 2012. P.D. Skaar's Montana bird distribution. 7th Edition. Montana Audubon, Helena, Montana. 208 pp. + foldout map.
- Page, G. W., and R. E. Gill, Jr. 1994. Shorebirds in western North America: Late 1800s to late 1900s. Pages 147-160 in A century of avifaunal change in western North America (J. R. Jehl, Jr. and N. K. Johnson, Eds.). Studies in Avian Biology No. 15.
- Powder River Eagle Studies, Inc., Gillette, WY., 1996, Spring Creek Mine 1995 Wildlife Monitoring Studies. Spring Creek Coal Company 1995-1996 Mining Annual Report. Vol. I, App. I. May 1996.
- Sibley, D. 2014. The Sibley guide to birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY. 598 pp.
- Skaar, P. D., D. L. Flath, and L. S. Thompson. 1985. Montana bird distribution. Montana Academy of Sciences Monograph 3(44): ii-69.
- Skaar, P.D. 1969. Birds of the Bozeman latilong: a compilation of data concerning the birds which occur between 45 and 46 N. latitude and 111 and 112 W. longitude, with current lists for Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, impinging Montana counties and Yellowstone National Park. Bozeman, MT. 132 p.
- U.S. Forest Service. 1991. Forest and rangeland birds of the United States: Natural history and habitat use. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Agricultural Handbook 688. 625 pages.
- Waage, Bruce C., 1997, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: 1996 Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report; December 1, 1995 - November 30, 1996 Survey Period. February 28, 1997.
- Western Energy Co., Colstrip, MT., 1982, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Report, 1982.
- Additional Sources of Information Related to "Birds"