Adults have long dark legs and a long pink bill with a slight upward curve and dark at the tip. The upper parts are mottled brown and the underparts are chestnut. The tail is black and the rump is white. They show black wing linings in flight.
Their breeding habitat is the far north near the tree line in northwestern Canada and Alaska, also on the shores of Hudson Bay. They nest on the ground, in a well-concealed location in a marshy area. The female usually lays 4 eggs. Both parents look after the young birds, who find their own food and are able to fly within a month of birth.
They can perhaps be most easily seen in migration on the east coast of North America at a place called South Beach in Chatham, MA where they can be plentiful in migration. Late July through early August appears to be the most plentiful time for the bird there and can be seen in the tens (usually a few individuals) to a hundred (rare) at a time.
These birds forage by probing in shallow water. They mainly eat insects and crustaceans.
Their numbers were reduced by hunting at the end of the 19th century.