Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia


Justification of Red List category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number c.440,000-1,500,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2015). The European population is estimated at 98,700-202,000 pairs, which equates to 197,000-405,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). National population estimates include: < c.10,000 individuals on migration and c.1,000-10,000 wintering individuals in China; c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration and c.1,000-10,000 wintering individuals in Taiwan; c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration and < c.50 wintering individuals in Korea; c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration and c.1,000-10,000 wintering individuals in Japan and c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification
The overall population trend is stable, although some populations have unknown trends (BirdLife International 2015, Wetlands International 2015).

Distribution and population


Behaviour This species is fully migratory and generally migrates overland on a broad front, although the majority of Western European birds passes through coastal and estuarine sites (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998). The Wadden Sea for example is used by many Fennoscandian birds as a stop-over and moulting site from late-April to mid-May (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Most palearctic birds are trans-Saharan migrants (del Hoyo et al. 1996), the main autumn passage through northern and temperate Europe occurring from the second week of July to late-October (Snow and Perrins 1998). One parent (usually the female) leaves the breeding territory first from late-June to early July (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998), with the other parent and juveniles following around 3-6 weeks later (Snow and Perrins 1998). Flocks arrive in southern Africa and Australia from August to September, and depart again in March for the northward return migration (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species departs for its breeding grounds during the evening (Hockey et al. 2005) and once there it breeds between late-April and June (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Some non-breeding birds may also remain in the south throughout the summer (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998). The species normally breeds in very dispersed pairs (Johnsgard 1981), but on passage it can occur singly or in small flocks (flocks of 20-25 are common in southern Africa) (Snow and Perrins 1998), although congregations of 100 or more may very rarely occur at high tide or at roosting sites (Urban et al. 1986). This species feeds both diurnally and nocturnally (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Habitat Breeding This species breeds in the boreal forest zone from sea level to 1,200 m in Norway (Johnsgard 1981, Snow and Perrins 1998)(although predominantly up to 450 m) (Snow and Perrins 1998), in swampy forest clearings, woody moorland, open bogs and marshes (including raised and blanket bogs) (del Hoyo et al. 1996), and eutrophic lakes with margins of dead and decaying vegetation (Johnsgard 1981). It avoids bare or broken barren expanses, mountain escarpments, and closed forests with very dense, tall vegetation (Snow and Perrins 1998). Non-breeding In its wintering grounds this species frequents a variety of freshwater, marine and artificial wetlands, including swamps, open muddy or rocky shores of lakes and large rivers, sewage farms, saltworks, inundated rice-fields (del Hoyo et al. 1996), ponds, reservoirs (Snow and Perrins 1998), flooded grasslands (Hockey et al. 2005), saltmarshes, sandy or muddy coastal flats, mangroves, estuaries (del Hoyo et al. 1996), lagoonsand pools on tidal reefs (Snow and Perrins 1998) or exposed coral (Urban et al. 1986), although it generally avoids open coastline (del Hoyo et al. 1996). On migration this species occurs on inland flooded meadows, dried-up lakes, sandbars and marshes (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Diet This species is chiefly carnivorous, its diet consisting of insects and their larvae (especially beetles), crustaceans, annelids, molluscs, amphibians (del Hoyo et al. 1996), small fish (mullet Liza spp., clinids Clinus spp. and tilapia Oreochromis spp.) (Hockey et al. 2005) and occasionally rodents (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest is a shallow scrape on open ground, often in clearings in woods (Snow and Perrins 1998), and is typically placed next to a piece of dead wood (del Hoyo et al. 1996), or beside rocks, trees (Johnsgard 1981), fences and sticks (for use as nest markers) (Snow and Perrins 1998).


In the Chinese, North Korean and South Korean regions of the Yellow Sea this species is threatened by the degradation and loss of its preferred wetland habitats through environmental pollution, reduced river flows and human disturbance (Kelin and Qiang 2006). Within Europe the species has suffered in some areas from habitat degradation caused by off-road vehicles or dry conditions causing vegetation to become rank (Hagemeijer and Blair 1997).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The following information refers to the species's European range only: The species is listed on Annex II (B) of the EU Birds Directive.

Conservation Actions Proposed
The following information refers to the species's European range only: Breeding areas should be protected from disturbance and alteration.


Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L., Symes, A., Ashpole, J

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Tringa nebularia. Downloaded from on 28/09/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/09/2023.