Sandpiper, the common name of the trin-ginoe, an extensive subfamily of small wading birds of the snipe family. They have the bill as long as or longer than the head, slender, compressed on the sides, with the culmen slightly depressed and enlarged near the tip, and the greater portion covered with a soft, very sensitive skin; the nostrils are basal, in a groove extending for two thirds of the bill; the wings long and pointed, the tail moderate and nearly even, the tarsi usually long and slender, and the toes but slightly united at the base. In the typical genus tringa (Linn.) the first primary is longest, the tertiaries long, and the secondaries short; the tarsus is covered in front with transverse scales, the hind toe very small, the anterior toes margined with membrane and free at the base. There are between 20 and 30 species, in all parts of the world, some widely diffused, and a few common to America and Europe; they are usually seen in flocks on the seashore or on the margin of lakes and rivers, and in marshes, probing the sand and mud with the bill in search of worms and minute crustaceans. They are generally migratory.
The colors of the spring and autumn plumage are different in most species, which has created some confusion in specific descriptions; both sexes are much alike in color, but the females are frequently the largest. - Among the American species is the purple sandpiper (T. maritima, Brünn.; arquatella, Baird), found on the shores of eastern North America, and in winter in tropical North and South America, and also in the temperate parts of Europe; gunners call it the rock snipe, from its frequenting rocky instead of sandy shores. The red-backed sandpiper T. alpina, Linn.; schoeniclus, Möhr.) is very abundant on the Atlantic shores in sandy and muddy places; it is found also in temperate Europe, where it is called dunlin and purre; Mr. Cassin thinks the American bird a distinct species, and gives it the name of Americana. The nest is a slight hollow in a dry place lined with grass; the young leave the nest as soon as hatched, as do all the species. The least sandpiper, or peep (T. Wilsonii, Nutt.), is the smallest of the group in this country, being only 5 1/2 to 6 in. long; it is abundant over the entire temperate regions of North America; it breeds in the far north, arriving in Massachusetts early in July. Its congener in Europe is the T. minuta (Leisler). - Among the European species of sandpipers, the ruff, the knot, and the sanderling have been noticed under these titles.
Least Sandpiper, or Peep (Tringa Wilsonii).