Small, odd sandpiper with short legs and a long, thin bill, turned down at the tip. Upperparts dark, contrasting with the white underparts and streaky breast. Furtive, with a slow feeding action. When flushed, flight is low and often short. Bold head pattern, evident in all seasons, is the best feature to look for in winter-plumaged birds. Breeds in taiga bogs, usually at coasts and estuaries on migration and in winter.