Nordmann’s greenshank (Tringa guttifer)

Also known as: Spotted greenshank
Spanish: Archibebe Moteado
GenusTringa (1)
SizeLength: 29 – 32 cm (2)

Nordmann’s greenshank is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1) and is listed on Appendix I of CITES (3). It is also listed on Appendix I of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS or Bonn Convention) (4) and Appendix III of the Berne Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (5).

With white spots on the black upper side and black spots on the white underside, Nordmann’s greenshank is easily recognisable. The spots of the upper side blend together, forming streaks on the head and upper neck, whereas on the underside they fade out altogether towards the hind belly. In flight, the uniformly grey tail can be seen extending beyond the tips of the toes. The beak is long and straight for probing into mudflats and the legs are also long. Juveniles are browner than adults, with a pale brown breast and wing edges (2).

Breeding along the southwestern and northern coasts of the Sea of Okhotsk and on Sakhalin Island, eastern Russia, Nordmann’s greenshank migrates bi-annually, but the wintering range is not fully understood. During the migration, large numbers of this species have been recorded in South Korea, mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Over winter it has been found in significant numbers in Bangladesh, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Peninsular Malaysia. It has also been recorded in Japan, North Korea, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Singapore, the Philippines, and Indonesia (2).

During the breeding season Nordmann’s greenshank feeds in wet coastal meadows and coastal mudflats, and nests in sparse larch (Larix) forest (2).

Arriving at northern Sakhalin, Russia, in the last ten days of May, Nordmann’s greenshanks display and breed until July. Loose clusters of three to ten pairs build nests of larch twigs and lichens, on wind-bent larch trunks or thick branches in sparsely wooded swamps. Four eggs are laid in the nest, which is well concealed from above by the tree canopy. Both the male and female contribute to incubation, and the eggs hatch between the last week of June and mid July. Once hatched, the adults lead the chicks to coastal meadows where the broods stay near shallow ponds obscured by dense vegetation. They all feed on sticklebacks, terrestrial invertebrates, small crustaceans, molluscs, and worms. Adults leave on the return migration in late July and early August, but juveniles remain longer, leaving in early September. At the wintering grounds, they consume small fish, crustaceans, larvae, and small molluscs, and have a preference for crabs. They feed by probing into mud, catching prey from the water surface, running after crabs and plunging the head into deeper water (6).

The major threats to this species include the development of coastal wetlands for industry and aquaculture, and habitat degradation due to grazing reindeer in Russia, as well as pollution. Hunting and human disturbance have also contributed to population declines (2).

This species benefits from protection in several areas in Russia, as well as from protected and non-hunting areas along the migration route, including the Yellow River Delta, Yancheng, and Chongming Dongtan in China, Mai Po in Hong Kong, Ko Libong in Thailand, Peam Krasop in Cambodia, and Zuan Thuy in Vietnam. Surveys are planned for the southwest of Okhotsk, as well as between the Ul’beya River and Cape Onatsevich, Russia. Further research into the status and necessary conservation actions is needed at potentially important wintering grounds in the Ayeyarwady Delta (formerly Irrawaddy) in Burma. Key actions to be completed also include the promotion of the conservation of coastal wetlands, the prohibition of hunting of all shorebirds in the breeding grounds of Nordmann’s greenshank and full legal protection throughout its range (2).

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  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2011)