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.
The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the impacts of habitat modification on population sizes.
Behaviour This species is predominantly sedentary, but may make local movements related to seasonal rainfall (with birds leaving during rains and flooding) (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996), the patterns of which are poorly understood (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Whilst breeding the species is usually found in pairs (Urban et al. 1986) or nesting in loose neighbourhood groups with nests 20 m apart (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996). It is gregarious during the non-breeding season however, usually occurring in small flocks of up to 20 individuals, but sometimes in larger groups (Urban et al. 1986) (during local migratory movements flocks of 100-300 have been reported) (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Hockey et al. 2005). It is diurnal but may feed during moonlit nights (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Hockey et al. 2005). Habitat This species primarily inhabits flat, open (del Hoyo et al. 1996), dry ground with very short grass or dried mud, often near the margins of lakes, reservoirs and rivers, or on small permanent and temporary pools, flood plains, dry sandy riverbeds (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996) and marshes (Owino 2002). It is also found along the coast on dry salt-flats, tidal mudflats (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996), lagoons, salt-marshes (del Hoyo et al. 1996), estuaries, sandy beaches with kelp wrack (Hockey et al. 2005), and offshore islands (Johnsgard 1981), although it generally avoids rocky coasts (Urban et al. 1986). The species less often inhabits airfields, golf courses, overgrazed pastures and ploughed fields (Hockey et al. 2005). Diet This species is carnivorous, its diet consisting of small terrestrial and marine invertebrates such as beetles, flies, bugs, grasshoppers (up to 40mm long) (Hockey et al. 2005), the larvae of Lepidoptera, spiders, molluscs (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996), polycheate worms and crustaceans (Hockey et al. 2005). Breeding site The nest of this species is a shallow scrape in coarse sand or dry mud, often in an exposed positions (del Hoyo et al. 1996) such as on sand ridges or sand piles, sandy-soil patches in open grassland, or on areas of dried mud devoid of vegetation (Johnsgard 1981). Nests are usually within 50-100 m of water, although they may be several km away (Urban et al. 1986), and breeding pairs may re-use old scrape nests (Urban et al. 1986, Hockey et al. 2005) or utilise natural depressions (Hockey et al. 2005).
This species is potentially threatened by habitat loss through wetland destruction and degradation (Ntiamboa-Baidu 1991, Wearne and Underhill 2005). Walvis Bay in Namibia (a key wetland site in southern Africa) is being degraded through changes in the flood regime due to road building, wetland reclamation for suburb and port development, and disturbance from tourism (Wearne and Underhill 2005); and Ghana wetlands are under threat from coastal erosion and proposed developments involving drainage and land reclamation (Ntiamboa-Baidu 1991). The proportion of the species that migrates via the east Atlantic flyway is susceptible to avian malaria and is therefore potentially threatened by future outbreaks (Mendes et al. 2005). The species is also susceptible to avian botulism, so may be threatened by future outbreaks of the disease (Blaker 1967).
Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Charadrius pecuarius. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/09/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/09/2022.