Heteroscelus incanus


When alarmed this bird will make a loud and scolding tattle sound. The name Heteroscelus means "different leg", which refers to the scaling on the bird's feet. Incanus means "gray", and refers to the birds drab plumage.

These primarily marine birds move inland during breeding, where they nest above the timberline in Alaska's rugged mountains. The Wandering Tattler's nest wasn't discovered until 1922.

Wandering Tattlers feed on aquatic insects, snails, crabs and marine worms.


General: 11 inches in length. Sexes similar.

Adult Alternate: Uniformly gray upperparts. Heavy black and white barring on underparts. White supercilium. Striped or barred cheeks. Dark, straight, medium length bill. Dark rump, and tail. Yellowish legs.

Adult Basic and Juvenile: Similar to adult alternate, except has uniformly gray upperparts, head, cheeks, and breast. Whitish belly.


Rocky coastal shores in fall and winter. Mountain streams in summer.


4 greenish eggs with dark brown spots. The eggs have a 23-25 day incubation period. Fledging occurs in ? days. The nest is made of roots, twigs, and dry leaves on a gravel bar in a mountain stream. Breeds above the timberline in Alaska's rugged mountains.

Observed Locations:

  • Cabrillo National Monument tidepools, Point Loma

Click on an image to see the larger version.






Home | References
Copyright © Scott Streit, 2000.