Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Calidris acuminata


Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Christidis, L. and Boles, W.E. 2008. Systematics and Taxonomy of Australian Birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
Cramp, S. and Simmons, K.E.L. (eds). 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.
Turbott, E.G. 1990. Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand. Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Wellington.

IUCN Red list criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
- A2bce+3bce+4bce A2bce+3bce+4bce

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2022 Vulnerable A2bce+3bce+4bce
2016 Least Concern
2012 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern
Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency Does not normally occur in forest
Land mass type Average mass -

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 820,000
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 52,100,000
Number of locations -
Severely Fragmented -
Population and trend
Value Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals 60000-120000, 73000 poor estimated 2020
Population trend Decreasing estimated -
Decline (3 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (5 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation future) 24-60,45 - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation past and future) 24-60,45 - - -
Number of subpopulations 1 - - -
Percentage in largest subpopulation 100 - - -
Generation length (yrs) 4.9 - - -

Population justification: Hansen et al. (2022) estimated the population in 2016 to number 120,684 using a breeding range and density estimate, or 85,829 from a spatially extrapolated estimate. The latter value is considered to be most accurate. Using the same underlying data (near-comprehensive count data from Australia, where >90% of the population winters) and trends derived from Clemens et al. (2016, 2019) and Clemens (2017), Clemens et al. (2021) estimate the population in 2020 to have numbered 72,900 mature individuals. Considering these data, the population is here estimated at 60,000-120,000, with a best estimate of 73,000.

Trend justification: Wetlands International (2019) considered the population trend to be unknown, however data exist from the wintering area that suggest a recent rapid decline. In Australia, where >90% of the world population winters (Clemens et al. 2021), data from a long-running (since the 1980s), continent-wide citizen science monitoring effort indicate a recent steep decline after temporal and spatial variability are accounted for (see Clemens 2017). The declines in the number of individuals recorded in Australia are inferred to represent the global rate of reduction in mature individuals. The estimated population of C. acuminata in 2016 in Australia was 85,000 (Hansen et al. 2022). By 2020, the abundance was estimated to be 72,900, based on an extrapolation of the 2016 data using trends derived from Clemens et al. (2016, 2019) and Clemens (2017). Over three generations (14.6 years; Bird et al. 2020), estimated population declines have been: 60% (Clemens et al. 2016), 24% (Clemens 2017), 47% (Clemens et al. 2019; Waterbird meta-analysis) and 52% (Clemens et al. 2019; Generalised Additive Model). The population is therefore estimated to be declining at a rate of 24-60% over three generations, with a best estimate (following Clemens et al. 2021) of 45%. Moreover, juvenile birds staging in Alaska before the onset of the autumn migration are in decline and the species has been included in the Red Alaska Watchlist (Warnock 2017). With continuing invasion of cordgrass on its staging sites (Melville et al. 2016) and climate change increasing the frequency of and severity of droughts (which has been demonstrated to impact the global population [Clemens 2017]), this decline is predicted to continue at approximately the same rate.

Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Resident Breeding Non-breeding Passage
Australia N Extant Yes
Austria V Extant
Belgium V Extant
Bermuda (to UK) V Extant Yes
Brunei N Extant Yes
Bulgaria V Extant
Canada V Extant
China (mainland) N Extant Yes Yes
Christmas Island (to Australia) N Extant Yes
Denmark V Extant
Ecuador V Extant
Fiji N Extant Yes
Finland V Extant
France V Extant
Germany V Extant
Guam (to USA) N Extant Yes
Hong Kong (China) N Extant Yes
India V Extant
Indonesia N Extant Yes Yes
Ireland V Extant
Japan N Extant Yes
Kazakhstan V Extant
Kiribati V Extant
Madagascar V Extant
Malaysia V Extant
Marshall Islands N Extant Yes
Micronesia, Federated States of N Extant Yes
Mongolia V Extant
Myanmar V Extant
Nauru N Extant Yes
Netherlands V Extant
New Caledonia (to France) N Extant Yes Yes
New Zealand N Extant Yes
North Korea N Extant Yes
Northern Mariana Islands (to USA) N Extant Yes
Norway V Extant
Oman V Extant Yes
Pakistan V Extant
Palau N Extant Yes
Papua New Guinea N Extant Yes Yes
Philippines N Extant Yes
Portugal V Extant
Russia N Extant Yes
Russia (Asian) N Extant Yes
Russia (Central Asian) V Extant
Seychelles V Extant
Singapore V Extant
Solomon Islands N Extant Yes Yes
South Korea N Extant Yes
Sri Lanka V Extant
St Helena (to UK) V Extant
Sweden V Extant
Taiwan, China N Extant Yes
Thailand V Extant
Timor-Leste N Extant Yes Yes
Tonga N Extant Yes
United Kingdom V Extant
United States Minor Outlying Islands (to USA) N Extant Yes
USA N Extant Yes
Vanuatu N Extant Yes
Vietnam V Extant
Yemen V Extant Yes

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
China (mainland) Chongming Dongtan Nature Reserve
China (mainland) Lianyungang saltworks
Australia Lake McLarty
Australia Adelaide and Mary River Floodplains
Australia Port McArthur Tidal Wetlands System
Australia Alligator Rivers Floodplains
Australia Moreton Bay and Pumicestone Passage
Australia Fivebough and Tuckerbil Swamps
Australia Hunter Estuary
Australia Narran Wetlands
Australia Paroo Floodplain and Currawinya
Australia Tuggerah
Australia Gulf Plains
Australia Bellarine Wetlands
Australia Lake Corangamite Complex
Australia Werribee and Avalon
Australia Coorong
Australia Broad Sound
Australia Lake Yamma Yamma
Australia Lake Eyre
Australia Coongie Lakes
Australia Macquarie Marshes
Australia Menindee Lakes
Australia Carrum Wetlands
Australia Karinga Creek System
Australia Fitzroy Floodplain and Delta
Australia Lake Hawdon System
Australia Lake Machattie Area
Australia Lakes Muncoonie, Mumbleberry and Torquinie
Australia Gulf St Vincent
Australia Lake Gregory/Paraku
Australia Peel-Harvey Estuary
Australia Lake Argyle
Australia Port Hedland Saltworks
Australia Watervalley Wetlands
Australia Lakes Alexandrina and Albert
China (mainland) Luannan coast and saltworks
China (mainland) Huanghua coast (Cangzhou)

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Grassland Subtropical/Tropical Seasonally Wet/Flooded suitable non-breeding
Grassland Tundra major breeding
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Coastal Brackish/Saline Lagoons/Marine Lakes major non-breeding
Marine Intertidal Mud Flats and Salt Flats major non-breeding
Marine Intertidal Salt Marshes (Emergent Grasses) suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Estuaries suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Tundra Wetlands (incl. pools and temporary waters from snowmelt) major breeding
Altitude 0 - 800 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact
Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Agriculture & aquaculture Marine & freshwater aquaculture - Industrial aquaculture Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 5
Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals - Intentional use (species is the target) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Species mortality
Climate change & severe weather Droughts Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Ecosystem degradation
Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - Spartina alterniflora Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Ecosystem conversion
Pollution Agricultural & forestry effluents - Herbicides and pesticides Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Ecosystem degradation
Pollution Domestic & urban waste water - Run-off Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Ecosystem degradation
Pollution Domestic & urban waste water - Sewage Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Ecosystem degradation
Pollution Industrial & military effluents - Oil spills Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Ecosystem degradation

Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Food - human - - Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Calidris acuminata. Downloaded from on 21/03/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 21/03/2023.