email a friend
printable version
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

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 extremely 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.

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.; Boles, W. E. 2008. Systematics and taxonomy of Australian birds. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 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.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
Turbott, E. G. 1990. Checklist of the birds of New Zealand. Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Wellington.

Tringa hypoleucos Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), Tringa hypoleucos Cramp and Simmons (1977-1994), Tringa hypoleucos Turbott (1990)

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number c.2,600,000-3,200,000 individuals (Wetlands International, 2006), while national population estimates include: c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs, c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration and c.1,000-10,000 wintering individuals in China; c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration and c.1,000-10,000 wintering individuals in Taiwan; c.100-10,000 breeding pairs, c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration and c.50-1,000 wintering individuals in Korea; c.100-10,000 breeding pairs, c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration and c.1,000-10,000 wintering individuals in Japan and c.10,000-1 million breeding pairs and >c.1,000 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification
The overall population trend is decreasing, although some populations may be stable and others have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006). In Europe, trends since 1980 show that populations have undergone a moderate decline (p<0.01), based on provisional data for 21 countries from the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme (EBCC/RSPB/BirdLife/Statistics Netherlands; P. Vorisek in litt. 2008).

Behaviour This species is a full migrant, migrating at night overland on a broad front across both deserts and mountains (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Small numbers may also remain in the northern maritime climatic zone (e.g. the British Isles, Mediterranean and Japan) throughout the year (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998). The European population that overwinters in West Africa migrates south between mid-July and August (juveniles following one month later), and returns to the breeding grounds from late-March to April (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998). Immature individuals may also remain in the winter range throughout the summer breeding season (Snow and Perrins 1998). The species breeds from May to June in scattered single pairs 60-70 m apart in optimal breeding habitat (del Hoyo et al. 1996), and migrates singly or in small flocks (del Hoyo et al. 1996), although it usually remains solitary in its winter range (Urban et al. 1986). It forages diurnally (del Hoyo et al. 1996) and may aggregate at night (Johnsgard 1981) into roosts of over 100 individuals (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Habitat Breeding During the breeding season this species shows a preference for pebbly, sandy or rocky margins of fast-flowing rivers (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998), as well as small ponds, pools (Snow and Perrins 1998) and dams (Urban et al. 1986), clear freshwater lake shores, sheltered sea coasts with rocky or sandy beaches, tidal creeks and estuaries (Urban et al. 1986), and often forages in patches of dry meadow (del Hoyo et al. 1996). It occurs from sea level up to 4,000 m or more in the mountains, but generally avoid frozen, snow-clad or very hot areas (Snow and Perrins 1998). Non-breeding In its winter range this species inhabits a wide variety of habitats, such as small pools, ditches, riverbanks (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998), streams, dam shores (Yalden 1992), marshy areas (Johnsgard 1981), estuaries, freshwater seeps on coastal shores, tidal creeks in mangrove swamps and saltmarshes, harbours, docks (Yalden 1992, Snow and Perrins 1998) and filtration tanks of sewage works (Yalden 1992). It will also forage on grassland along roadsides and occasionally in gardens (Yalden 1992, del Hoyo et al. 1996), but it generally avoids large coastal mudflats (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Diet The diet of this species consists of adult and larval insects (such as beetles and Diptera), spiders, molluscs, snails, crustaceans, annelids, and occasionally frogs, toads, tadpoles and small fish, as well as plant material (including seeds) (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest is a shallow depression, sometimes amongst shrubs and trees (del Hoyo et al. 1996).

The size of the breeding population in England is threatened by disturbance from recreational anglers (Yalden 1992).

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1996. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Johnsgard, P. A. 1981. The plovers, sandpipers and snipes of the world. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, U.S.A. and London.

Snow, D. W.; Perrins, C. M. 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic vol. 1: Non-Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Urban, E. K.; Fry, C. H.; Keith, S. 1986. The birds of Africa vol. II. Academic Press, London.

Yalden, D. W. 1992. The influence of recreational disturbance on common sandpipers Actitis hypoleucos breeding by an upland reservoir, in England. Biological Conservation 61: 41-49.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

View photos and videos and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

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

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Actitis hypoleucos. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Common sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Scolopacidae (Sandpipers, Snipes, Phalaropes)
Species name author Linnaeus, 1758
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 25,900,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment