A Sharp-tailed Sandpiper standing in shallow water
The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Calidris acuminata) is one of our more striking migratory waders. Sporting a tawny crown and back, straight black bill and olive legs, the medium-sized ‘Sharpie’ is easy to pick out in a flock of smaller waders.
A Sharp-tailed Sandpiper feeding in shallow water with grasses
Non-breeding plumage - October to March
A Sharp-tailed Sandpiper feeding in the mud
Breeding plumage - April to September
 Difficulties arise when they mix with the similar looking Pectoral Sandpiper (C. melanotos). The yellow legs and defined markings between the breast and belly of the Pectoral Sandpiper help to distinguish it from Sharpies.
A Pectoral Sandpiper standing in between two Sharp-tailed Sandpipers in shallow water
A Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (centre) with two Pectoral Sandpipers.
Cartoon world map showing distribution of the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
Sharp-tailed Sandpipers breed in the Tundra of the high Arctic in Siberia. When they return to Australia, prevailing conditions determine where the flock ends up.
If Australia’s red centre is in flood, Sharpies will stop to forage in our vast, briny inland lakes. In dry years, they will travel the extra miles to join Red-necked Stints and Curlew Sandpipers in estuaries and mudflats along the southern coast.
The Sharp-tailed Sandpiper is not a picky eater. They will happily scoff aquatic worms, insects, molluscs, crustaceans and even seeds. They are often seen foraging around freshwater wetlands, mangroves, rocky shores and beaches.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

Least Concern

Australian EPBC Act


Similar Species

Image credits:
Cathy Cavallo
Cathy recently completed her PhD in Ecology and is a communicator with a passion for natural history, connecting people with nature and photography. When she isn’t running operations and social media for Remember The Wild, you’ll find her in the bush or underwater.

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