Spotted Greenshank Tringa guttifer


Justification of Red List Category
This species is listed as Endangered because it has a very small population which is declining as a result of the development of coastal wetlands throughout its range, principally for industry, infrastructure projects and aquaculture. Preliminary analyses of survey data collected at its breeding sites in Russia have provided evidence that the species's population is indeed undergoing a very rapid decline; clarification of these results may lead to a review of its threat status in the near future.

Population justification
BirdLife International (2001) estimated 250-999 individuals, however given an estimated 100 individuals in Malaysia (Li et al. 2005), 100-200 in Thailand (P. Round in litt. 2005 to Wetlands International 2006), c.100 in Myanmar (D. Li in litt. to Wetlands International 2006), unknown but low numbers in north-eastern India, Bangladesh and Sumatra and a new figure of c.1,200 individuals from Jiangsu, China (Tong et al. 2014), the population is likely to be larger than this. Thus overall the population is placed in the band 1,000-2,000 individuals, roughly equating to 600-1,300 mature individuals.

Trend justification
This species's population is suspected to be decreasing very rapidly, in line with levels of coastal wetland development throughout Asia for industry, infrastructure and aquaculture, and the degradation of its breeding habitat in Russia by grazing reindeer Rangifer tarandus. Survey data collected on the species's breeding grounds in 2010 and 2011 (per E. Lappo in litt. 2012) lend support to the suspicion of a very rapid decline and further analysis may elucidate whether the rate of decline could be more rapid than this.

Distribution and population

This species breeds in eastern Russia along the south-western and northern coasts of the Sea of Okhotsk in Magadan, Khabarovsk, possibly western Kamchatka as well as on Sakhalin Island (M. Crosby in litt. 2016). Its non-breeding range is not fully understood, but significant numbers have been recorded on passage in mainland China, Hong Kong (China), and Taiwan (China), and South Korea whilst wintering birds have been recorded in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia. It is thought that it could be under-recorded in Bangladesh (Bird et al. 2010). It has also been recorded on passage or in winter in Japan, North Korea, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar (which may yet prove to be an important part of its wintering range), Singapore (e.g. Tan Gim Cheong 2009), the Philippines, Indonesia (e.g. Tirtaningtyas and Philippa 2009, Abdillah and Iqbal 2012, Putra et al. 2015) and Australia (A. Boyle in litt 2006). There are unconfirmed records from Nepal and Guam (to US). 

A recent record of c.1,117 individuals from Jiangsu, China in October 2013 (940 individuals at Tiaozini reclamation district at Dongtai, 158 on the Rudong coast and 19 on the Dongling coast [Bai et al. 2015]) suggests that the population may be larger than previously thought (Tong et al. 2014) and highlights the importance of this area for both north- and southwards migration (M. Tong in litt. 2016), with possibly the entire world population of the species staging on the intertidal flats of the Rudong coast (Birds Korea 2013). In autumn 2012 c.280 individuals were recorded in the Dongtai area (V. Fu in litt. 2013). Around 500 individuals and at least 10 juveniles were recorded at the Rudong coast from August to October 2015 (Choi and Zhang unpubl. to Q. Bai in litt. 2016). Several adults have been observed to undergo their primary molt on the Rudong coast (Choi and Zhang unpubl. to Q. Bai in litt. 2016). Counts in the Yalu River NNR, China on the Yellow Sea in 2012 found c.10-15 adults in October with juveniles observed in mid-September (Q. Bai in litt. 2016). Surveys of 100 sites in Peninsular Malaysia recorded 146 individuals at four sites (Li et al. 2007). A survey at the Teluk Air Tawar-Kuala Muda coast IBA in 2013 found 63 individuals roosting there (Hurrell 2013). In January 2014, at least seven individuals were recorded at a site in Cambodia (R. Sheldon in litt. 2014). In January and February 2016, a flock of c.100 individuals was found in the northern Gulf of Thailand (K. Sutasha in litt. 2016).

Data from surveys in Peninsular Malaysia and Russia support the suspicion of a very rapid population decline, and further analyses may indicate whether the rate of decline is more severe. Numbers recorded on passage in South Korea also suggest a decline, at least since the late 1980s, although reduced observer effort may account for some of this trend (N. Moores in litt. 2012).


Its breeding habitat is a combination of sparse larch Larix forest for nesting, wet coastal meadows interspersed with piles of driftwood, and coastal mudflats which are used by the adults for feeding. Wintering birds usually frequent estuaries, coastal mudflats and lowland swamps, and sometimes damp meadows, saltpans and rice-fields.


The key threats are the development of coastal wetlands throughout Asia for industry, infrastructure and aquaculture, and the degradation of its breeding habitat in Russia by grazing reindeer Rangifer tarandus. Over 90% of its breeding range is unprotected, and in Russia some of its breeding sites are expected to be modified by pipeline construction and other developments for the oil industry (per E. Lappo in litt. 2012). The area of intertidal wetlands in South Korea has decreased by more than 50% in the past 25 years, with extensive reclamation at Yeongjong Island, almost complete reclamation of Asan Bay and inner parts of Namyang Bay, and complete reclamation of Saemangeum (N. Moores in litt. 2012). Several other sites that support or formerly supported the species in South Korea have been significantly degraded since the 1980s (N. Moores in litt. 2012). The Rudong coast which apparently forms an important staging site is potentially threatened by habitat loss and degradation owing to a large-scale reclamation project (Q. Bai in litt. 2016). The intertidal flats at Rudong and Dongling are threatened by the invasive grass Spartina (Q. Bai in litt. 2016). Pollution in coastal wetlands, hunting and human disturbance are further threats. Observations suggest that hunting is a significant threat at breeding sites in Russia (per E. Lappo in litt. 2012).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I. CMS Appendix II. In Russia, protected areas have been established in northern Sakhalin, along the coasts and islands of Nabilski and in Dagi and Piltun Bays, and it is partially protected on Kamchatka in the Kronotsk Reserve and on the Moroshechnaya river. Key protected and non-hunting areas along its migration route include the Yellow River delta, Yancheng and Chongming Dongtan (China), Mai Po (Hong Kong), Ko Libong (Thailand), Peam Krasop (Cambodia), and Xuan Thuy (Vietnam).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys to the south-west of Okhotsk and between the Ul'beya river and Cape Onatsevich (Russia); carry out comprehensive surveys in South Korea (N. Moores in litt. 2012). Conduct further surveys at Rudong, China to understand population trends. Research its status and conservation at potentially important wintering grounds in the Irrawaddy delta (Myanmar) and Ganges delta (Bangladesh). Establish further protected areas in its breeding grounds, at least at Konstantin Bay in Khabarovsk (Russia), as well as important sites in the winter range. Draft management plans for coastal wetlands to promote their conservation. Ban the hunting of all shorebirds in its breeding grounds. Provide full legal protection throughout the range. Conduct research into its feeding ecology, roosting requirements and energy budgets, including at passage sites (N. Moores in litt. 2012). Develop methods for controlling invasive Spartina on intertidal flats at important staging sites.


29-32 cm. Medium-sized sandpiper with slightly upturned, bicoloured bill and shortish yellow legs. Breeding adults are boldly marked, with whitish spots and spangling on blackish upperside, heavily streaked head and upper neck, broad blackish crescentic spots on lower neck and breast and darker lores. In flight, shows all-white uppertail-coverts and rather uniform greyish tail. Toes do not extend beyond tail tip. Juvenile is browner above than non-breeding adult, has whitish notching on scapular and tertial fringes, pale buff wing-covert fringes and faintly brown-washed breast with faint dark streaks at sides. Similar spp. Common Greenshank T. nebularia has longer, greener legs, longer neck, less obviously bicoloured bill, and more obviously streaked crown, nape and breast-sides. Voice Call is distinctive kwork or gwaak.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Gilroy, J., Pilgrim, J., Taylor, J., Ashpole, J

Bunting, G., Boyle, A., Sutasha, K., Fu, V., Li, Z., Moores, N., Bai, Q., Crosby, M., Iqbal, M., Harris, B., Lappo, E., Tong, M., Sheldon, R.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Tringa guttifer. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/spotted-greenshank-tringa-guttifer on 29/05/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 29/05/2023.