We evaluated food habits of 4 species of spring-migrant calidrid sandpipers in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) of North Dakota. Sandpipers foraged in several wetland classes and fed primarily on aquatic dipterans, mostly larvae, and the midge family Chironomidae was the primary food eaten. Larger sandpiper species foraged in deeper water and took larger larvae than did smaller sandpipers. The diverse wetland habitats that migrant shorebirds use in the PPR suggest a landscape-level approach be applied to wetland conservation efforts. We recommend that managers use livestock grazing and other tools, where applicable, to keep shallow, freshwater wetlands from becoming choked with emergent vegetation limiting chironomid production and preventing shorebird use.
Additional publication details
Feeding ecology of arctic-nesting sandpipers during spring migration through the prairie pothole region