Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis


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). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to 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.260,000-1,200,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2015). The European population is estimated at 12,100-30,300 pairs, which equates to 24,100-60,600 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). National population estimates include: c.100-10,000 breeding pairs, > c.10,000 individuals on migration and c.1,000-10,000 wintering individuals in China; c.50-10,000 wintering individuals in Taiwan and c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and c.50-1,000 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009).

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


Behaviour This species is a full migrant, travelling overland on a broad front between its breeding grounds in central Asia (Russia and Siberia), and its wintering grounds in sub-Saharan Africa, southern Asia, Indonesia and Australia (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The main passage to and from Russia is believed to occur east of the Black Sea (Snow and Perrins 1998), with only a few birds crossing Europe (del Hoyo et al. 1996) (during south-west to south-south-west movements into and out of Russia a small proportion of the species regularly crosses Slovakia, Hungary, the Balkans, Italy and the eastern Mediterranean) (Snow and Perrins 1998). In eastern central Asia the species passes through Mongolia; central, north-eastern and coastal China; Korea (on southward migration only), Japan, Myanmar, Malaysia and Sumatra (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species leaves its breeding range between the first half of July and early-September (Snow and Perrins 1998), arriving in its wintering grounds in September (del Hoyo et al. 1996). For those birds wintering in West Africa, the Nile valley in Sudan is commonly used as a stop over site before crossing the Sahara (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species is present in West Africa from September to mid-April (del Hoyo et al. 1996), and departs again between the second half of March and April, passing through central Asia in early-April to early-May, and reoccupying breeding areas again by mid-April to mid-May (Snow and Perrins 1998). Most non-breeders remain in the winter quarters or at intermediate sites during the breeding season (del Hoyo et al. 1996). This species forages singly or in groups of less than 20 (Hockey et al. 2005), although flocks can sometimes exceed 300 (Urban et al. 1986, Hockey et al. 2005). It usually nests solitarily or in loose colonies with pairs spaced less than 10 m apart (Hayman et al. 1986). The species is active both diurnally and nocturnally (independent of moon phases) (Hockey et al. 2005). Habitat Breeding This species inhabits warm inland wetlands from open steppe to boreal forest, including shallow freshwater and brackish marshlands, grassy or marshy lake-edges (Johnsgard 1981), river valleys, flooded meadows (Snow and Perrins 1998) and occasionally salt-lakes (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Non-breeding Outside of the breeding season the species typically occurs on the margins of inland freshwater and brackish wetlands such as rice paddy-fields, swamps, salt-pans, salt-marshes, sewage works and marshy lake-edges, and although it is rare on open coastlines it can occasionally be found on estuaries, lagoons and intertidal mudflats (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996, Hockey et al. 2005). Diet This species is carnivorous, its diet consisting of small fish, crustaceans, molluscs, and both aquatic and terrestrial insects (Higgins and Davies 1996, del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest of this species is a shallow depression (Snow and Perrins 1998), often on a mound at the marshy edge of a lagoon, lake or pool (Johnsgard 1981).


Breeding The species has disappeared as a breeding bird from eastern Europe, Belarus, Maldova and Russia as a result of steppe habitat losses due to agricultural intensification (such as increased ploughing (Tomkovich 1992)), and possibly also due to egg-collecting (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It may also be threatened by industrial pollution from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (organic pollutants) in the Lake Baikal region in Russia, where high levels of pollutants have been recorded in its eggs (Lebedev et al. 1998). Non-breeding In China and South Korea important migrational staging areas around the coast of the Yellow Sea are being lost through land reclamation and degraded as a result of declining river flows (from water abstraction), increased pollution, unsustainable harvesting of benthic fauna and a reduction in the amount of sediment being carried into the area by the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers (Barter 2002, Barter 2006). The species is also threatened by habitat loss in its wintering range, as wetland sites in Ghana are being degraded through coastal erosion and developments involving drainage and land reclamation (Ntiamoa-Baidu 1991). It may be susceptible to future outbreaks of avian botulism (Blaker 1967, van Heerden 1974), partly due to its choice of habitat (it often shows a preference for sewage works) (Hockey et al. 2005).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The following information refers to the species's European range only: There are no current conservation measures for this species.

Conservation Actions Proposed
The following information refers to the species's European range only: Adequate protection and expansion of its steppe habitat should be ensured. Legislation regulating egg collecting should be developed and enforced. Studies to develop understanding of its ecology, threats and their impact should be undertaken to inform future conservation measures.


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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Species factsheet: Tringa stagnatilis. Downloaded from on 25/02/2024.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2024) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/02/2024.