Little Stint (Calidris minuta)
Range: Asia through Africa

The most abundant 'peep' in Europe and Africa, Closely related to Red-necked Stint with which it forms a super-species. A solid understanding of plumage variation in Little Stint is essential for the identifcation of vagrant sandpipers in the Western Palearctic and Africa. Little and Red-necked Stints are extremely similar in basic (winter) plumage and must be identificed with great caution. Semipalmated Sandpiper is also rather similar. Bill shape is generally sufficient to exclude Western Sandpiper. Confusion with Sanderling is possible, however Little Stints are much smaller, differ in the colour and pattern of scapulars and wing coverts. The most definitive feature, however, is the presence of a hind toe in Little Stint which is lacking in Sanderling.

Adults in prebasic molt

Fig. 1. Adult in prebasic moult. Note the orangy-red wash across the upperparts. Many of the scapulars and teritals show broad dark centers.

Fig. 2. Adult(?). This bird presents a rather puzzling mixture of braded grey scapulars, wth a a scattering of fresher, darker centered feathers.

Fig. 3. Adult  just beginning prebasic moult. Note the one or two fresh (grey) scapulars that stand out against the older and much redder feathers. The pale throat and lack of a clearly defined semicircle (necklace) of dark spots on the breast rules out most Red-necked Stints of comparable age. Semi-palmated Sandpipers are almost never as red as this bird.

Fig. 4. Adult in prebasic moult. The somewhat abraded coverts and mantle are interrupted with a row of fresh (grey) scapulars.

Fig. 5. Another view of the bird in Fig. 4.

Click here for photos and discussion of an adult Little Stint in New York.

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All text and images copyright of Angus Wilson© 2002