email a friend
printable version
Greater Sandplover Charadrius leschenaultii
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). The population trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very 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.

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number c.180,000-360,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while national population sizes have been estimated at < c.10,000 individuals on migration and c.50-1,000 wintering individuals in China and c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration and c.50-1,000 wintering individuals in Taiwan (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification
The population trend is difficult to determine because of uncertainty over the impacts of habitat modification on population sizes.

Behaviour This species is fully migratory, and is likely to migrate without stopping on a broad front between breeding and non-breeding areas (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Migratory flocks form after the end of breeding between mid-June and early-August, and arrive in the wintering grounds between mid-July and November (adults and immature birds arriving before juveniles) (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Those birds wintering in South-East Asia start moving northwards to the breeding grounds in late-February (the migration peaking in March to early-April), arriving from mid-March to May; whereas those wintering in East Africa and southern Asia depart for breeding grounds from mid-April to early-May (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Most non-adult wintering birds remain in the wintering areas during the breeding season (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species is typically gregarious, feeding in flocks of 2-50, and sometimes congregating in groups of up to 1,000 when roosting (Urban et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996). Habitat Breeding During the breeding season this species is predominantly found in open, dry, treeless, uncultivated areas up to 3,000 m (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998), including dried mud, silt and clay flats, hard salt-pans overgrown with halophytic plants (Johnsgard 1981, Snow and Perrins 1998), and rocky plains near mountains in desert or semi-desert (Johnsgard 1981, Flint et al. 1984, del Hoyo et al. 1996). In Turkey the species frequents heavily grazed saline steppe (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species usually breeds near water (del Hoyo et al. 1996) but exceptionally it will nest up to 20 km away from it (Snow and Perrins 1998). Non-breeding During the non-breeding season this species shows a preference for littoral habitats (Urban et al. 1986) with mixed sand and mud substrata (Hockey et al. 2005). It is found on sheltered sandy, shelly or muddy beaches, large intertidal mudflats, sandbanks, salt-marshes, estuaries, coral reefs, rocky islands (del Hoyo et al. 1996), tidal lagoons (Hockey et al. 2005) and dunes near the coast (Urban et al. 1986), although it may sometimes feed on coastal grasslands (Hayman et al. 1986). Whilst on migration the species will occasionally utilise inland habitats such as salt-lakes and brackish swamps, usually roosting on sandbanks and spits (Hayman et al. 1986, del Hoyo et al. 1996). Diet This species is carnivorous: during the breeding season its diet consists mainly of terrestrial insects and their larvae (especially beetles, termites, midges and ants), and occasionally lizards (Johnsgard 1981, del Hoyo et al. 1996); whereas during the non-breeding season its diet contains mainly marine invertebrates such as molluscs (snails), worms and crustaceans (such as shrimps and crabs) (Johnsgard 1981, del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest is a shallow scrape on the ground (del Hoyo et al. 1996) amongst sand-hills, gravel, or on other barren substrates (Johnsgard 1981).

Breeding In some parts of its breeding range this species is threatened by the destruction of wetlands and bordering fallow steppe through drainage and water extraction for irrigation (Turkey) (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998). Non-breeding The species is threatened by habitat degradation and loss throughout its non-breeding range: in Australia agricultural developments are reducing the area of coastal and inland habitat, and hydrological changes to estuaries are modifying important intertidal areas (National Parks and Wildlife Service 1999 Species Profile: Charadrius leschenaultii. Downloaded from on 14/8/2007); key wetland sites in southern Africa (for example Walvis Bay, Namibia) are being degraded through wetland reclamation for suburb and port development, and changes in the flood regime due to road building (Wearne and Underhill 2005). One of the species' migratory staging areas in China (Chongming Island) is undergoing significant habitat loss and degradation through conversion to aquaculture ponds, farmlands and vegetable gardens, the cultivation of the alien plant Spartina alterniflora on tidal flats (promoting rapid sedimentation with the intention of reclaiming the area), and the Three Gorges Dam on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River reducing the supply of river-borne sediment to mudflats in the area (Ma et al. 2002). The species is also susceptible to disturbance from tourists in its non-breeding range (National Parks and Wildlife Service 1999 Species Profile: Charadrius leschenaultii. Downloaded from on 14/8/2007, Wearne and Underhill 2005), and commercial hunting (for sale at market or to restaurants) is a major threat in the area of Chongming Island, China (Ma et al. 2002).

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.

Flint, V. E.; Boehme, R. L.; Kostin, Y. V.; Kuznetsov, A. A. 1984. A field guide to birds of the USSR. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Hayman, P.; Marchant, J.; Prater, A. J. 1986. Shorebirds. Croom Helm, London.

Hockey, P. A. R.; Dean, W. R. J.; Ryan, P. G. 2005. Roberts birds of southern Africa. Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town, South Africa.

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

Ma, Z.J., Tang, S.M., Lu, F. and Chen, J.K. 2002. Chongming Island: a less important shorebird stopover site during southward migration? Stilt 41: 35-37.

National Parks and Wildlife Service. 1999. Species Profile: Charadrius leschenaultii. Australia.

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.

Wearne, K. and Underhill, L.G. 2005. Walvis Bay, Namibia: a key wetland for waders and other coastal birds in southern Africa. Wader Study Group Bulletin 107: 24-30.

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

Search for 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: Charadrius leschenaultii. 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 - Greater sand plover (Charadrius leschenaultii) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Charadriidae (Plovers)
Species name author Lesson, 1826
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Unknown
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 3,460,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment