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The common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) is a rather small, short-legged wader with a long, straight beak, relatively drab colouration, and a distinctive ‘teetering’ behaviour, in which the head and the rear of the body are constantly bobbed up and down when the bird is standing or walking. The head, upper breast and upperparts are greenish-brown with delicate dark streaking, contrasting with the white underparts. A white eye-ring is visible up close and the legs are greenish-grey. The common sandpiper has a distinctive flight, with rapid, shallow wing beats on stiff, curved wings, and in flight a striking white wingbar is visible. Outside of the breeding season, common sandpipers are duller in colour, with faintly barred olive-brown upperparts and less streaking on the head, while juveniles resemble the non-breeding adult, but have more heavy buff barring on the upperparts. Female common sandpipers average slightly larger than the males. This species closely resembles the spotted sandpiper, Actitis macularia, but is slightly larger, with a longer tail, slightly longer, straighter beak, darker legs, and a more obvious wingbar in flight. The calls of the common sandpiper include a shrill, three-note twee-see-see, given when the bird takes off, while the song is a high, rapidtitti-weeti, titti-weeti.

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