Diet

Sandpipers eat primarily invertebrates, animals without backbones, such as worms, mollusks, crustaceans, insects, and spiders. They also eat some vertebrates, animals with backbones, including small fish and amphibians. Some species will also eat plant material at certain times of year, often when insect prey is unavailable. Plant material eaten may include berries, rice, seeds, and green shoots.

Sandpiper species with short bills generally obtain food by pecking at it. Snipes and woodcocks probe mud with their bills to look for food. Shanks run after fish in shallow water with their bills submerged. They sometimes work together to drive entire schools of small fish into shallow areas. Phalaropes and a few other species peck tiny prey from the water, focusing on invertebrates such as shrimp and copepods. A few members of the family have unique feeding strategies. For example, turnstones flip over stones and shells to look for prey, and the Terek sandpiper runs after small burrowing crabs.

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