Upland Sandpiper - Bartramia longicauda
(see State Rank Reason below)
State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Species is apparently secure and not at risk of extirpation or facing significant threats in all or most of its range.
- Details on Status Ranking and Review
Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda) Conservation Status Review
Review Date = 12/22/2011
ScoreU - Unknown
ScoreG - 200,000-2,500,000 km squared (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Comment267,380 square kilometers based on Natural Heritage Program range maps that appear on the Montana Field Guide
Area of Occupancy
ScoreU - Unknown
ScoreD - Moderate Decline (decline of 25-50%)
CommentGrassland habitats have been heavily impacted since European arrival and species has probably declined by 25-50% over this time period.
ScoreF - Increasing. Increase of >10% in population, range, area occupied, and/or number or condition of occurrences
CommentBreeding Bird Survey data is of high credibility in Montana and shows a nonsignificant increase of 1.7% per year or 18% increase per decade. Surrounding states and provinces all show increasing trends, with credibility and significance varying.
ScoreB - Moderate and imminent threat. Threat is moderate to severe and imminent for a significant proportion (20-60%) of the population or area.
CommentHabitat loss, mowing, and grazing probably represent the greatest threats to the species.
SeverityModerate - Major reduction of species population or long-term degradation or reduction of habitat in Montana, requiring 50-100 years for recovery.
CommentWhen native prairie sod is busted it would take a long time to recover to useful habitat.
ScopeModerate - 20-60% of total population or area affected
CommentUncertain if 20% of grassland habitats would be lost in next 15 years, but species probably faces threats across large portion of their range.
ImmediacyModerate - Threat is likely to be operational within 2-5 years.
ScoreC - Not Intrinsically Vulnerable. Species matures quickly, reproduces frequently, and/or has high fecundity such that populations recover quickly (< 5 years or 2 generations) from decreases in abundance; or species has high dispersal capability such that extirpated populations soon become reestablished through natural recolonization (unaided by humans).
ScoreC - Moderate. Generalist. Broad-scale or diverse (general) habitat(s) or other abiotic and/or biotic factors are used or required by the species but some key requirements are scarce in the generalized range of the species within the area of interest.
CommentUse a variety of grassland and open savannah habitats.
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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Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations:
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Map Help and Descriptions
SUMMER (Feb 16 - Dec 14)
Direct Evidence of Breeding
Indirect Evidence of Breeding
No Evidence of Breeding
WINTER (Dec 15 - Feb 15)
Not Regularly Observed
(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: mtnhp.org/requests
) 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.
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- 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
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- 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?
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