New York Natural Heritage Program
Upland Sandpiper
Bartramia longicauda (Bechstein, 1812)

Habitat [-]
This is an obligate grassland species. A survey of nesting habitats in Wisconsin (White 1983) suggested that Upland Sandpipers favor a level topography with a minimum of tall vegetation edges and proportionately high acreages of agricultural crops that duplicate the structure of prairie grasslands. Preferred habitat includes large areas of short grass for feeding and courtship with interspersed or adjacent taller grasses for nesting and brood cover. In the northeastern U.S., airfields currently provide the majority of suitable habitat, though grazed pastures and grassy fields also are used (Carter 1992). Observations by Buss and Hawkins (1939) suggest a delicate distinction between acceptable and unacceptable sites. Heavy or early grazing, standing water, burning, and manuring may reduce or exclude nesting from fields accepted the previous year. Abandoned fields with invading shrubs and trees may sometimes exclude Upland Sandpipers (Laughlin and Kibbe 1985). In upstate New York, Bollinger (1995) found that Upland Sandpipers preferred larger, older hayfields (> 10 years). Habitat characteristics specific to New York include field size > 30 ha, < 1% shrub cover, 10-15% forb cover, very low litter depth, mixed vegetation height (<15 cm & 40 cm+), sparse overall vegetation density, with available perches (Morgan and Burger 2006). In Jefferson County, Lazazzero and Norment (2005) found that Upland Sandpipers favored large pastures with small perimeter/area ratios (fewer edges) that are homogenous in floristic structure (few plant species) with nearby barns and fenceposts for perching. Upland Sandpiper probability of occurrence continued to increase even at the largest field size (> 500 ha), indicating that smaller fields, even with the appropriate mosaic of vegetation elements, will unlikely be used for breeding by this species.

Associated Ecological Communities [-]
  • Cropland/field crops
    An agricultural field planted in field crops such as alfalfa, wheat, timothy, and oats. This community includes hayfields that are rotated to pasture.
  • Hempstead Plains grassland
    A tall grassland community that occurs on rolling outwash plains in west-central Long Island. This community occurs inland, beyond the influence of offshore winds and salt spray.
  • Successional old field
    A meadow dominated by forbs and grasses that occurs on sites that have been cleared and plowed (for farming or development), and then abandoned or only occasionally mowed.

Associated Species [-]
  • Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum)
  • Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
  • Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus)
  • Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris)
  • Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)
  • Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus)
  • Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna)