Quick Guide to the Flight Calls of Eastern Shorebirds

Hi everyone,

Below I share sound clips of the flight calls of eastern shorebirds. All sound clips are available via xenocanto. A written description, taken from those described in the Sibley Guide to the Birds of Eastern North America, of the call will also be included.

Black-bellied Plover: http://www.xeno-canto.org/150226. Distinctive high, clear whistles, melancholic and gently slurred PLEEooee or peeeeooEEE

American Golden-Plover: http://www.xeno-canto.org/311857 and http://www.xeno-canto.org/308708. Plaintive, urgent queedle; higher pitched than Black-bellied.

Semipalmated Plover: http://www.xeno-canto.org/277111. Short, husky whistled chuWEE

Piping Plover: http://www.xeno-canto.org/269315. Clear, mellow whistles peep or peep-low; low-pitched and gentle

Greater Yellowlegs: http://www.xeno-canto.org/237777. Three to four loud, ringing notes deew deew deew; higher-pitched than Lesser, with strident overtones.

Lesser Yellowlegs: http://www.xeno-canto.org/203603. Typically shorter, flatter, and softer than Greater, one of two short whistles too-too.

Solitary Sandpiper: http://www.xeno-canto.org/260170. Clear, high, rising whistle peet-WEET or peet weet weet; higher pitched and more urgent than Spotted Sandpiper.

Spotted Sandpiper: http://www.xeno-canto.org/334369. High, clear, whistled series peet weet weet; lazier and lower-pitched than Solitary.

Willet (Western): http://www.xeno-canto.org/13805. Clear, loud, ringing kleee lii or simply descending haaaa

Whimbrel: http://www.xeno-canto.org/236556. Rapid, forceful, liquid quiquiquiquiquiquiquiqui with no change in pitch.

Hudsonian Godwit: http://www.xeno-canto.org/193664. High falsetto kwidWID; higher-pitched than other godwits.

Marbled Godwit: http://www.xeno-canto.org/160445. Tentative, hoarse, trumpeting kaaWEK like Laughing Gull; lower-pitched than other godwits.

Ruddy Turnstone: http://www.xeno-canto.org/109346. Relatively low-pitched, bouncing rattle; more nasal, and harder than Short-billed Dowitcher.

Purple Sandpiper: http://www.xeno-canto.org/84037. Call a scratchy, low keesh.

Red Knot: http://www.xeno-canto.org/285190. Usually silent; sometimes a low, husky wett-wet.

Dunlin: http://www.xeno-canto.org/161082. Distinctive, buzzy, rasping pjeev.

Semipalmated Sandpiper: http://www.xeno-canto.org/145899. Typical flight call a short, husky chrf; also gives a sharp, thin cheet similar to Western.

Western Sandpiper: http://www.xeno-canto.org/113152. Typically a high, harsh, and thin cheet.

Least Sandpiper: http://www.xeno-canto.org/145676. High, trilled prreep; gentle, rising, and musical.

Sanderling: http://www.xeno-canto.org/70466. Common call a short, hard kwit

Pectoral Sandpiper: http://www.xeno-canto.org/332519. A rather low, rich, reedy, and harsh trilling drrup.

Baird’s Sandpiper: http://www.xeno-canto.org/148504. A rough kreep reminiscent of Pectoral but higher-pitched and drier.

White-rumped Sandpiper: http://www.xeno-canto.org/16280. Very distinctive. Very high-pitched, thin, mouse-like tzeek.

Stilt Sandpiper: http://www.xeno-canto.org/145924. A low, soft, muffled, husky jeew.

Long-billed Dowitcher: http://www.xeno-canto.org/221594. High, sharp keek.

Short-billed Dowitcher: http://www.xeno-canto.org/332526. All calls lower-pitched than Long-billed. Call a liquid, rapid, kewtutu.

Wilson’s Phalarope: http://www.xeno-canto.org/294840. Low, muffled, nasal grunting or moaning wemf.

Red-necked Phalarope: http://www.xeno-canto.org/13591. Short, hard kett; sharper, higher, and harder than Sanderling. At times, strongly reminiscent of blackbirds.

Red Phalarope: http://www.xeno-canto.org/276958. Call a distinctive, high piik; higher and clearer than Red-necked.


A Guide to Southbound Shorebirds, by Ron Pittaway:

An Ontario birder’s one-stop-shop for information on where and when to see shorebirds in Eastern and Southern Ontario 🙂



Happy Shorebirding, everyone!