Thursday 23 May
Red-necked stint (Calidris ruficollis)
- The red-necked stint is a small and common sandpiper that weighs little more than a box of matches.
- Red-necked stints migrate thousands of kilometres from their breeding grounds in the Siberian Tundra to northern Australia.
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Red-necked stint fact file
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Red-necked stint description
Breeding and non-breeding adults of the red-necked stint (Calidris ruficollis) are clearly identified by a number of characteristics. The breeding adult of this species has a reddish-brown head with dark brown streaks. Its chin is white, and there is a dark brown smudge in front of each eye that interrupts the white eyebrows. Its white eyebrows are finely streaked with brown, and it has a brown stripe on either side of the head which runs through each eye. The shoulder and upper back feathers of the breeding adult red-necked stint are black in the centre but edged with chestnut brown, compared to its wing-coverts which are greyish-brown with off-white fringing (2).
The top of the head and back of the neck of the non-breeding adult red-necked stint are grey with blackish-brown streaking. Like the breeding adult, it has a brown eye stripe and streaked white eyebrow. Its throat and chin are both white, and the feathers on the wings, shoulders and upper back are greyish-brown with fine white fringing. All adult red-necked stints have white underparts with grey shading on the sides of the breast. The rump and tail are black except for the feathers on the outer tail and sides of the rump which are white. Adults of this species have brown eyes, and a black bill and legs (2).
The juvenile red-necked stint has a white face, throat and underparts, and its pale buff breast is streaked with brown. Its plumage is similar to that of the breeding adult, but with time the chestnut feather fringes on its blackish-brown upperparts fade to greyish-brown (2).
The red-necked stint’s call is typically a ‘chit’, a ‘prip’ (2), or a descending chatter, ‘ti-d-d-do’. During courtship display this species uses deep, repetitive rising notes, ‘rrooa rrooa rrooa rrooa’, sometimes alternating with a higher ‘ek ek ek ek ek’ (4).
- Also known as
- eastern little stint, land snipe, least sandpiper, little sandpiper, little stint, redneck sandpiper, rufous necked stint.
- Erolia ruficollis.
- Bécasseau à col roux.
- Length: 13 - 16 cm (2)
BirdLife International - Red-necked stint:
BirdLife Australia - Red-necked stint:
Australian Government: Species Profile and Threats Database - Red-necked stint:
Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection - Shorebirds:
Partnership for the East Asian-Australasian Flyway:
BirdLife International - East Asia/Australasia Flyway:
WWF - Conservation Work in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway:
- Slightly salty water, usually a mixture of salt and freshwater, such as that found in estuaries.
- Diverse group of animals with jointed limbs and a hard external skeleton, characterised by the possession of two pairs of antennae, one pair of mandibles (mouthparts used for handling and processing food) and two pairs of maxillae (appendages used in eating, which are located behind the mandibles). Includes crabs, lobsters, shrimps, woodlice and barnacles.
- A group of molluscs that have a well-defined head, an unsegmented body and a broad, flat foot. They can possess a single, usually coiled shell or no shell at all. Includes slugs, snails and limpets.
- The act of incubating eggs; that is, keeping them warm so that development is possible.
- Pertaining to the intertidal zone, the region between the high tide mark and low tide mark.
- Animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones) and echinoderms.
- A diverse group of invertebrates, mainly marine, that have one or all of the following: a horny, toothed ribbon in the mouth (the radula), a shell covering the upper surface of the body, and a mantle or mantle cavity with a type of gill. Includes snails, slugs, shellfish, octopuses and squid.
- Feeding on both plants and animals.
- Treeless, grassy plains characteristic of Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. They are very cold and have little rainfall.
- An individual found outside the normal range of the species.
- Small feathers which cover the bases of other larger feathers, helping to smooth airflow over the wings.
IUCN Red List (December, 2012)
- Geering, A., Agnew, L. and Harding, S. (2007) Shorebirds of Australia. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
BirdLife Australia - Red-necked stint (December, 2012)
- O’Brien, M., Crossley, R. and Karlson, K. (2006) The Shorebird Guide. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston.
BirdLife International - Red-necked stint (December, 2012)
- Kaufman, K. (2001) Lives of North American Birds. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston.
- MobileReference. (2009) The Illustrated Encyclopedia of European Birds: An Essential Guide to Birds of Europe. MobileReference, Boston.
Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities: Species Profile and Threats Database: Calidris ruficollis - Red-necked stint (December, 2012)
Partnership for the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (December, 2012)
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Red-necked stint biology
The red-necked stint forages on the shore and occasionally in shallow water (6), picking rapidly at the ground as it darts between feeding spots. An omnivorous species, it feeds on insects, small invertebrates, molluscs, crustaceans and gastropods, as well as seeds and plants (3).
Relatively little study has been undertaken on the red-necked stint’s breeding behaviour. However, it is known that the male’s breeding display involves fluttering and gliding over its breeding territory while uttering a repeated call. Following its aerial display, the male drops to the ground with its wings held high in a sharp ‘V’ above its back (6).
The red-necked stint is a ground-nesting species, typically building its nests on mossy hummocks (6). Built between May and July (4), the nest is shallow and lined with willow leaves. The female red-necked stint generally lays four olive or buff-coloured eggs that are blotched with brown. Incubation is believed to be carried out by both sexes, and is thought to last approximately three weeks. The female often abandons the newly-hatched chicks, which are then looked after solely by the male red-necked stint (6).
As it is a sociable species, the red-necked stint is often found in mixed-species flocks within its non-breeding habitat. It generally occurs with other waders, such as curlew sandpipers (Calidris ferruginea) and sharp-tailed sandpipers (Calidris acuminata) (7).Top
Red-necked stint range
The red-necked stint’s breeding range includes north-eastern Siberia, and northern and western Alaska. Migrating along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway, this species spends the summer months in Australia (3). The red-necked stint is considered to be a vagrant species across parts of Europe, east and southern Africa, the United Arab Emirates and Canada (5).Top
Red-necked stint habitat
The red-necked stint typically breeds in the tundra, whereas its coastal and intertidal non-breeding habitat includes brackish water, coastal freshwater lakes, mud and salt flats, salt marshes and estuaries (5).Top
Red-necked stint status
The red-necked stint is classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Red-necked stint threats
Current threats to the red-necked stint are not specific to this species, and include climate change, severe weather, and habitat shifts and alterations (5). The greatest threat to this species is a loss of staging areas available for use during its migration. This threat affects all migratory shorebirds using the flight path known as the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (8).Top
Red-necked stint conservation
There are no specific conservation measures currently known for the red-necked stint. However, this species is protected by guidelines that are in place for all migratory shorebirds. The Australian Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds defines measures that are needed to support shorebird conservation initiatives along the flyway, focussing on the long-term survival of populations and habitats. The Partnership for the Conservation of Migratory Waterbirds and the Sustainable Use of their Habitats in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway was launched in 2006 to help deliver local capacity building for sustainable ecosystem use (9).Top
Find out more
Find out more about the red-necked stint:
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More information on the East Asian-Australasian Flyway and its conservation:
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This species is found in Barrow Island. Visit our Barrow Island topic page to find out more.
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