The Scolopacidae - the sandpipers; the bane of beginner birdwatchers. They are small to medium shorebirds. Many look very similar. Most have at least three distinct plumage's, often molting or changing during their migrations. Sexes are similar in most species and the backs are cryptically patterned by pale edging on feathers. In migration flocks may be seen probing and pecking beaches or mudflats for tiny crustaceans or mollusks. In flight, these birds swirl and synchronize their turns, looking like smoke from a distance.
Waders have long bodies and legs, and narrow wings. Most species have a narrow bill, but otherwise the form and length are quite variable. The bills are sensitive, allowing the birds to feel the mud and sand as they probe for food.
Waders generally have dull plumage, with cryptic brown, grey, or streaked patterns, although some display brighter colours during the breeding season.