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Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
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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 appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable 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.

Distribution and population
There is evidence to suggest that the European population (200,000-510,000 pairs, occupying 50-74% of the global breeding range) has declined by up to 30% over ten years (three generations), but this may reflect shifts in breeding populations, populations in Asia are not thought to be declining and wintering populations in Africa appear to be increasing.

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number c.440,000-1,500,000 individuals (Wetlands International, 2006), while national population estimates include: < c.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.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration and < c.50 wintering individuals in Korea; c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration and c.1,000-10,000 wintering individuals in Japan and c.10,000-100,000 breeding pairs and c.1,000-10,000 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification
The overall population trend is stable, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).

Behaviour This species is fully migratory and generally migrates overland on a broad front, although the majority of Western European birds passes through coastal and estuarine sites (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998). The Wadden Sea for example is used by many Fennoscandian birds as a stop-over and moulting site from late-April to mid-May (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Most palearctic birds are trans-Saharan migrants (del Hoyo et al. 1996), the main autumn passage through northern and temperate Europe occurring from the second week of July to late-October (Snow and Perrins 1998). One parent (usually the female) leaves the breeding territory first from late-June to early July (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998), with the other parent and juveniles following around 3-6 weeks later (Snow and Perrins 1998). Flocks arrive in southern Africa and Australia from August to September, and depart again in March for the northward return migration (del Hoyo et al. 1996). The species departs for its breeding grounds during the evening (Hockey et al. 2005) and once there it breeds between late-April and June (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Some non-breeding birds may also remain in the south throughout the summer (del Hoyo et al. 1996, Snow and Perrins 1998). The species normally breeds in very dispersed pairs (Johnsgard 1981), but on passage it can occur singly or in small flocks (flocks of 20-25 are common in southern Africa) (Snow and Perrins 1998), although congregations of 100 or more may very rarely occur at high tide or at roosting sites (Urban et al. 1986). This species feeds both diurnally and nocturnally (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Habitat Breeding This species breeds in the boreal forest zone from sea level to 1,200 m in Norway (Johnsgard 1981, Snow and Perrins 1998)(although predominantly up to 450 m) (Snow and Perrins 1998), in swampy forest clearings, woody moorland, open bogs and marshes (including raised and blanket bogs) (del Hoyo et al. 1996), and eutrophic lakes with margins of dead and decaying vegetation (Johnsgard 1981). It avoids bare or broken barren expanses, mountain escarpments, and closed forests with very dense, tall vegetation (Snow and Perrins 1998). Non-breeding In its wintering grounds this species frequents a variety of freshwater, marine and artificial wetlands, including swamps, open muddy or rocky shores of lakes and large rivers, sewage farms, saltworks, inundated rice-fields (del Hoyo et al. 1996), ponds, reservoirs (Snow and Perrins 1998), flooded grasslands (Hockey et al. 2005), saltmarshes, sandy or muddy coastal flats, mangroves, estuaries (del Hoyo et al. 1996), lagoonsand pools on tidal reefs (Snow and Perrins 1998) or exposed coral (Urban et al. 1986), although it generally avoids open coastline (del Hoyo et al. 1996). On migration this species occurs on inland flooded meadows, dried-up lakes, sandbars and marshes (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Diet This species is chiefly carnivorous, its diet consisting of insects and their larvae (especially beetles), crustaceans, annelids, molluscs, amphibians (del Hoyo et al. 1996), small fish (mullet Liza spp., clinids Clinus spp. and tilapia Oreochromis spp.) (Hockey et al. 2005) and occasionally rodents (del Hoyo et al. 1996). Breeding site The nest is a shallow scrape on open ground, often in clearings in woods (Snow and Perrins 1998), and is typically placed next to a piece of dead wood (del Hoyo et al. 1996), or beside rocks, trees (Johnsgard 1981), fences and sticks (for use as nest markers) (Snow and Perrins 1998).

In the Chinese, North Korean and South Korean regions of the Yellow Sea this species is threatened by the degradation and loss of its preferred wetland habitats through environmental pollution, reduced river flows and human disturbance (Kelin and Qiang 2006).

Anthes, N. 2004. Long-distance migration timing of Tringa sandpipers adjusted to recent climate change. Bird Study 51: 203-211.

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

del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., and 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.

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

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

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

Kelin, C.; Qiang, X. 2006. Conserving migratory shorebirds in the Yellow Sea region. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D. (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 319. The Stationery Office, Edinburgh, UK.

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

Urban, E.K., Fry, C.H. and Keith, S. 1986. The Birds of Africa, Volume II. Academic Press, London.

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. & Symes, A.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Tringa nebularia. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016.

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 greenshank (Tringa nebularia) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Scolopacidae (Sandpipers, Snipes, Phalaropes)
Species name author (Gunnerus, 1767)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 12,100,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment