The Broad-billed Sandpiper, Limicola falcinellus, is a small wader. It is the only member of the genus Limicola; some have proposed that it should be placed in the genus Erolia with the “stint” sandpipers, but more recent research (Thomas et al., 2004) suggests that it is should rather go into the genus Philomachus with the ruff and possibly the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper; it certainly is a fairly unusual calidrid.
Distribution / Range
This bird’s breeding habitat is wet taiga bogs in arctic northern Europe and Siberia. The male performs an aerial display during courtship. They nest in a ground scrape, laying 4 eggs.
The Broad-billed Sandpiper is strongly migratory, wintering from easternmost Africa, through south and south-east Asia to Australasia. It is highly gregarious, and will form flocks with other calidrid waders, particularly Dunlins. Despite its European breeding range, this species is rare on passage in western Europe, presumably because of the south-easterly migration route.
Diet / Feeding
They forage in soft mud on marshes and the coast, mainly picking up food by sight. They mostly eat insects and other small invertebrates (= animals without internal skeleton, such as insects, larvae, earthworms, millipedes, snails, spiders).
Broad-billed Sandpipers are small waders, slightly smaller than the Dunlin, but with a longer straighter bill, and shorter legs. The breeding adult has patterned dark grey upperparts and white underparts with blackish markings on the breast. It has a pale crown stripe and supercilia.
In winter, they are pale grey above and white below, like a winter Dunlin, but retains the head pattern. Juveniles have backs, similar to young Dunlin, but the white flanks and belly and brown-streaked breast are distinctive.
The Broad-billed Sandpiper is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.