Common Redshank Tringa totanus


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 is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds 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.1,300,000-3,100,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2015). The European population is estimated at 340,000-484,000 pairs, which equates to 680,000-968,000 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.50-10,000 wintering individuals in Korea; c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.50-1,000 individuals on migration and c.1,000-10,000 wintering individuals in Japan and c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.50-1,000 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009). The population is therefore placed in the band 1,000,000-3,499,999 individuals.

Trend justification
The overall population trend is uncertain, as some populations are decreasing, while others are stable, increasing or have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2015). In Europe, trends between 1980 and 2013 show that populations have undergone a moderate decline (p<0.01) (EBCC 2015).


Behaviour Most populations of this species are fully migratory and travel on a broad front over land and along coasts, some Icelandic and Western European populations remaining close to their breeding grounds (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It breeds from March to August (Hayman et al. 1986) in solitarily pairs or in loose colonies (Hayman et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996), departing the breeding grounds from June to October, and returning from the wintering grounds again between February and April (Hayman et al. 1986). Outside of the breeding season the species forages singly, in small groups (del Hoyo et al. 1996) or occasionally in larger flocks of up to c.1,000 individuals (Snow and Perrins 1998) especially at roosting sites (Hayman et al. 1986) or when feeding on fish (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Habitat Breeding The species breeds on coastal saltmarshes, inland wet grasslands with short swards (del Hoyo et al. 1996) (including cultivated meadows) (Johnsgard 1981), grassy marshes, swampy heathlands (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and swampy moors (Johnsgard 1981). Non-breeding On passage the species may frequent inland flooded grasslands (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and the silty shores of rivers and lakes (Flint et al. 1984), but during the winter it is largely coastal (del Hoyo et al. 1996), occupying rocky, muddy and sandy beaches, saltmarshes, tidal mudflats, saline and freshwater coastal lagoons (del Hoyo et al. 1996), tidal estuaries (Johnsgard 1981), saltworks and sewage farms (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Diet Breeding When breeding its diet consists of insects, spiders and annelid worms (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Non-breeding During the non-breeding season the species takes insects, spiders and annelid worms (del Hoyo et al. 1996), as well as molluscs, crustaceans (especially amphipods e.g. Corophium spp.) (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and occasionally small fish and tadpoles (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest s a shallow scrape or hollow (Snow and Perrins 1998) on a hummock or at the base of a tuft (Flint et al. 1984) of grass (del Hoyo et al. 1996), often well hidden by overhanging leaves (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species usually nests solitarily inland (less than 10 pairs/km2) but in loosely colonial groups (up to 100-300 pairs/km2) on the coast (del Hoyo et al. 1996).


The species is threatened by the loss of breeding and wintering habitats through agricultural intensification, wetland drainage, flood control, afforestation, land reclamation, industrial development (del Hoyo et al. 1996), encroachment of Spartina spp. on mudflats (Evans 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996), improvement of marginal grasslands (del Hoyo et al. 1996) (e.g. by drainage, inorganic fertilising and re-seeding) (Baines 1988), coastal barrage construction (Burton 2006), and heavy grazing (e.g. of saltmarshes) (Norris et al. 1998). The species is also threatened by disturbance on intertidal mudflats from construction work (UK) (Burton et al. 2002a) and foot-traffic on footpaths (Burton et al. 2002b). It is vulnerable to severe cold periods on its Western European wintering grounds (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and suffers from nest predation by introduced predators (e.g. European hedgehog Erinaceus europaeus) on some islands (Jackson 2001). The species is also susceptible to avian influenza so may be threatened by future outbreaks of the virus (Melville and Shortridge 2006).

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. The EU commisioned a Management Plan for this huntable bird species considered to be in unfavourable status (Technical Report - 2009 - 031) (Jensen et al. 2009).

Conservation Actions Proposed
The following information refers to the species's European range only: Optimal breeding conditions for this species may be provided by creating a mosaic of unflooded grassland, winter-flooded grassland and shallow pools (Ausden et al. 2002). Winter flooding of grasslands is beneficial to the species as it helps to keep the sward height short and open and also creates pools which provide a source of aquatic invertebrates in the spring (Ausden et al. 2002, Olsen and Schmidt 2004). Such shallow pools on coastal grazing marshes should be maintained until the end of June (Ausden et al. 2003). The number of breeding pairs on improved grassland was successfully increased on a reserve in Wales by the implementation of a two-year rotation of chisel ploughing, as well as a seasonal sheep and cattle grazing regime and a controlled increase in the water-level (Squires and Allcorn 2006). At Lower Lough Erne in Northern Ireland the breeding population of the species increased considerably as a result of cutting rush beds in mid-winter (although the species nested on uncut areas, chicks benefited from the presence of adjacent short, open areas for feeding) (Robson and Allcorn 2006). Low-level grazing of salt marshes (e.g. c. 1 cow per hectare) does not appear to affect the species and may even be beneficial to breeding populations (Norris et al. 1997, Ausden et al. 2005), although cattle should not be put onto the marsh until towards the end of the nesting season (e.g. late-May or early-June) to minimise the risk of nest trampling (Norris et al. 1997). There is also evidence that too heavy grazing can be detrimental (Evans 1986). The species is known to show increased hatching success when ground predators have been excluded by erecting protective fences around nesting areas (Jackson 2001), and in the U.K. there is evidence that the removal of Spartina anglica from tidal mudflats using a herbicide is beneficial for the species (Evans 1986).


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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Tringa totanus. Downloaded from on 30/11/2023.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 30/11/2023.