Name: Spoon-billed Sandpiper
Scientific name: Calidris pygmaea
Conservation status: IUCN - Critically Endangered, CMS - Appendix I

Spoon-billed Sandpiper is the rarest shorebird and endemic to the East Asian - Australasian Flyway (EAAF). It was uplisted to Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List in 2008. A Spoon-billed Sandpiper Recovery Team was set up in 2004 and the CMS Single Species Action Plan was finalized and published in 2008. The Recovery Team joined EAAFP in 2010 and the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force was endorsed.


Spoon-billed sandpiper is a small shorebird, only about 14-16cm in size, with short legs. It has a black spoon-shaped bill.

During breeding season, its head, neck and breast turn to reddish-brown, with dark spotting from the breast extending toward their white belly. Non-breeding plumage or juvenile has head and back in overall dull brown colour, and brownish - grey upperpart feathers, with stripes that run down their crown.

Distribution range

*This map was produced by EAAFP Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force and EAAFP Secretariat.

Breeding grounds: breeds in far northeastern Russia extends from along the Bering Sea coast of the Chukotsk Peninsula and southwards to the Kamchatka Peninsula.

Stopover sites: Highly dependent on the Yellow/West Sea Region, as a critical stop-over, especially in coast of Jiangsu Province of China, also found in Yubudo in RO Korae and possibly DPR Korea for moulting and replenishing fat reserves for onward migration

Wintering grounds: winters in coastal mudflats in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam and South China.


SBS breeding ground in Russia © Pavel Tomkovich and Egor Loktionov

They require specialized breeding habitats at coastal lagoons, river mouth or sand spit sparsely vegetated. They feed at inter-tidal flats, during non-breeding season.

Population estimate

About 300 to 700 individuals of all ages.

Main threats

Habitat loss and degradation, hunting, pollution, invasive species (cordgrass Spartina spp.) directly and climate change indirectly.

How you can help

  • Help to raise awareness of the critical situation of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper and its conservation
  • Support studies, surveys, report sighting of Spoon-billed Sandpiper, tagged or not
  • Join wetland clean ups and activities to remove invasive Spartina cordgrass
  • Report illegal hunting cases to authorities to enhance law enforcement
  • Reduce disturbance at the Spoon-billed Sandpiper sites and habitats, such as shellfish collection
  • Join EAAFP Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force
  • Donate and support EAAFP’s work

Learn more about Spoon-billed Sandpiper


Click [here] to download the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Factsheet. All Copyrights Reserved.