ⓘ Spotted redshank


ⓘ Spotted redshank

The spotted redshank is a wader in the large bird family Scolopacidae. The genus name Tringa is the New Latin name given to the green sandpiper by Aldrovandus in 1599 based on Ancient Greek trungas, a thrush-sized, white-rumped, tail-bobbing wading bird mentioned by Aristotle. The specific erythropus is from Ancient Greek eruthros, "red", and pous, "foot".

It breeds across northern Scandinavia and the northern Palearctic and migrates south to the Mediterranean, the southern British Isles, France, tropical Africa, and tropical Asia for the winter. It is an occasional vagrant to Australia and North America.


1. Taxonomy

The spotted redshank was described by German zoologist Peter Simon Pallas in 1764 and given the binomial name Scolopax erythropus. It is a monotypic species, with no recognised subspecies. Taxonomically, it forms a close-knit group with several other large Tringa species, with molecular sequencing showing it to be a sister clade to that containing the greater yellowlegs and the common greenshank.


2. Description

This is a large wader shorebird, measuring 29–31 cm 11–12 in long, with a wingspan of 61–67 cm 24–26 in and a weight ranging from 121 to 205 g 4.3 to 7.2 oz. It is black in breeding plumage, and very pale in winter. It has a red legs and bill, and shows a white oval on the back in flight. Juveniles are grey-brown finely speckled white above, and have pale, finely barred underparts. Adults moult completely between July and October. In spring, the body plumage is moulted between March and May. Juveniles have a partial moult between August and February. The call is a creaking whistle teu-it somewhat similar to the call of a roseate tern, the alarm call a kyip-kyip-kyip.


3. Behaviour

Food and feeding

Like most waders, it feeds on small invertebrates.


It nests on open boggy taiga, laying four eggs in a ground scrape. For breeding the bird moults to a black to dark grey with white spots. During breeding plumage the legs also turn a dark grey. See image alongside.