Buff-breasted Sandpiper




Buff-breasted Sandpiper in South America

Scientific name: Tryngites subruficollis

Family: Scolopacidae

Spanish name: Playerito canela

Migration: Nearctic migrant

Population estimate: 15,000-25,000

Trend: Decreasing

Ramsar Criterion 6 (1% level): 200

IUCN Conservation status: Near threatened


Distribution and abundances

Main non-breeding quarters are located in the Pampas of Argentina (especially within the eastern portion of the Flooding Pampa, along Bahía Samborombón) and in the grasslands around the lagoons within the coastal plain of Uruguay and Rio Grande do Sul, in Brazil. Considerable numbers have also been observed in Paraguay (during southward migration) and in Suriname. Smaller numbers were also recorded in saline lagoons of the Puna of Argentina and Bolivia and the Central of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil. Observed casually (o accidentally) in the Andes of Colombia and Ecuador (link to Abundances map). Sites reaching the 1% threshold (Ramsar Convention Criterion No. 6) are: Estancia Medaland in Argentina; Ilha da Torotama and Lagoa do Peixe in Brazil; Laguna de Rocha, Laguna de Castillos, Camino del Indio and Bañados de las Maravillas in Uruguay, Bahía de Asunción in Paraguay and Hacienda la Corocora in Colombia.


Migration and seasonality

Arrival to the main non-breeding grounds from mid September to mid October. Migration occurs east of the Andes, mainly through the Western Amazonia and Central Amazonia/Pantanal Flyways, crossing through the countries of Paraguay, Bolivia, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela and Suriname. Uses traditional stop-over sites. Habitat conditions might result in a direct flight over the Amazonia in some years, especially during the northward migration when water levels tend to be high. Northward migration appears to occur along a similar route, starting by late January and early February (link to Seasonality map).



Typical grassland shorebird. Main non-breeding habitat are short grasslands and pastures (halophytic steppes and humid prairies; < 9 cm height), under cattle or sheep grazing. Also found in small groups in other habitats like ploughed fields and rice fields during the first stages of the rice cycle. During migration uses sand bars along rivers in the interior of South America.


Habits and interactions with human activities

In small to medium size groups in rural areas where cattle or sheep raising on natural pastures is the main activity; in open grasslands associated with the American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica). Uncommon in agricultural fields.



Antas, P.T.Z. 1983. Migration of nearctic shorebirds (Charadriidae and Scolopacidae) in Brasil ‑ flyways and their different seasonal use. Wader Study Group Bull. 39: 52-56.

Bent, A.C. 1962. Life Histories of North American Shore Birds. Part I. Dover Publications INC. New York.

Blanco, D.E., R.B. Lanctot, J.P. Isacch & V.A. Gill. 2004. Pastizales templados del sur de América del Sur como hábitat de aves playeras migratorias. Ornitología Neotropical 15 (Suppl.): 159-167.

Blanco, D.E., B. López-Lanús, R.A. Dias, A. Azpiroz & F. Rilla. 2006. Uso de arroceras por chorlos y playeros migratorios en el sur de América del Sur. Implicancias de conservación y manejo. Wetlands International. Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Canevari, M., P. Canevari, G.R. Carrizo, G. Harris, J. Rodríguez Mata & R. Straneck. 1991. Nueva Guía de las Aves Argentinas. Fundación Acindar. Santiago de Chile. Tome I: 200 pp. and Tome II: 182 pp.

Canevari, P., G. Castro, M. Sallaberry & L.G. Naranjo. 2001. Guía de los chorlos y playeros de la Región Neotropical. ABC, WWF-US, WA, MBO & Asociación Calidris, Cali, Colombia.

del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & J. Sargatal (eds). 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 3. Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Ed., Barcelona.

Fjeldsa, J. & N. Krabbe. 1990. Birds of the High Andes. Zoological Museum, Univ. of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Lanctot, R.B & C.D. Laredo. 1994. Buff-breasted sandpiper (Tryngites subruficollis). In Poole A. & F. Gill (Eds): The birds of North America, No. 91. The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, The American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, D.C.

Lanctot, R.B., D.E. Blanco, R.A. Dias, J.P. Isacch, V.A. Gill, J.B. Almeida, K. Delhey, P.F. Petracci, G.A. Bencke & R. Balbueno. 2002. Conservation status of the Buff-breasted Sandpiper: Historic and contemporary distribution and abundance in South America. Wilson Bulletin 114(1): 44-72.

Wetlands International. 2006. Waterbird Population Estimates – Fourth Edition. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.




Authors: Daniel E. Blanco, Román Baigún & Bernabé López-Lanús

Data compiler: Eugenio Coconier

Photographer: Roberto Guller

Recommended citation: Blanco D.E., R. Baigún & B. López-Lanús. 2008. Buff-breasted Sandpiper in South America factsheet. Wetlands International for the Global Avian Influenza Network for Surveillance / WCS / USAID.




Click on the link to download the factsheet in pdf format: Buff-breasted Sandpiper



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