In breeding plumage, they are a dark brown but otherwise, a drab gray. Their bill is short and pointed, often with a slight downward droop.
When foraging, they walk slowly, often crouching while searching for insects, crustaceans, snails, mollusks and marine worms.
They gather in small flocks on beaches, mudflats and salt marshes on the Gulf Coast in winter after summering on their breeding grounds in the tundra and primitive forests of northern Canada and Alaska. They begin arriving in August and start their spring migration north in April.