Family Sandpipers, Snipes, Phalaropes (Scolopacidae)

Least Concern

Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)

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Taxonomy

French: Chevalier sylvain German: Bruchwasserläufer Spanish: Andarríos bastardo
Taxonomy:

Tringa Glareola

Linnaeus

, 1758,

Sweden

.

Monotypic.

Distribution:

N & C Europe through C Siberia to Anadyrland, Kamchatka and Commander Is, and NE China; occasionally Aleutian Is. Winters mainly in tropical and subtropical Africa and across S & SE Asia to S China, Philippines, Indonesia, New Guinea and Australia.

Descriptive notes

19–23 cm; 34–98 g; wingspan 54–57 cm. Small, graceful sandpiper; head, neck and breast finely streaked grey-brown; supercilium and throat white; upperparts black-brown with white spots, underparts white. Similar to T. ochropus, but paler, less bulky and longer-legged; underwing much paler. Has longer neck and legs than more uniform Actitis hypoleucos. Female averages slightly larger and acquires breeding plumage earlier#R. Non-breeding adult has browner and less spotted upperparts; breast washed grey and less streaked; supercilium more distinct. Juvenile like non-breeding adult, but warmer brown above with buff spots; breast washed grey-brown, finely streaked brown.

Adult breeding
Drawing by Francesc Jutglar
Adult breeding
Descriptive notes:

19–23 cm; 34–98 g; wingspan 54–57 cm. Small, graceful sandpiper; head, neck and breast finely streaked grey-brown; supercilium and throat white; upperparts black-brown with white spots, underparts white. Similar to T. ochropus, but paler, less bulky and longer-legged; underwing much paler. Has longer neck and legs than more uniform Actitis hypoleucos. Female averages slightly larger and acquires breeding plumage earlier#R. Non-breeding adult has browner and less spotted upperparts; breast washed grey and less streaked; supercilium more distinct. Juvenile like non-breeding adult, but warmer brown above with buff spots; breast washed grey-brown, finely streaked brown.

Adult non-breeding
Drawing by Juan M. Varela
Adult non-breeding
Descriptive notes:

19–23 cm; 34–98 g; wingspan 54–57 cm. Small, graceful sandpiper; head, neck and breast finely streaked grey-brown; supercilium and throat white; upperparts black-brown with white spots, underparts white. Similar to T. ochropus, but paler, less bulky and longer-legged; underwing much paler. Has longer neck and legs than more uniform Actitis hypoleucos. Female averages slightly larger and acquires breeding plumage earlier#R. Non-breeding adult has browner and less spotted upperparts; breast washed grey and less streaked; supercilium more distinct. Juvenile like non-breeding adult, but warmer brown above with buff spots; breast washed grey-brown, finely streaked brown.

Adult non-breeding
Drawing by Francesc Jutglar
Adult non-breeding
Descriptive notes:

19–23 cm; 34–98 g; wingspan 54–57 cm. Small, graceful sandpiper; head, neck and breast finely streaked grey-brown; supercilium and throat white; upperparts black-brown with white spots, underparts white. Similar to T. ochropus, but paler, less bulky and longer-legged; underwing much paler. Has longer neck and legs than more uniform Actitis hypoleucos. Female averages slightly larger and acquires breeding plumage earlier#R. Non-breeding adult has browner and less spotted upperparts; breast washed grey and less streaked; supercilium more distinct. Juvenile like non-breeding adult, but warmer brown above with buff spots; breast washed grey-brown, finely streaked brown.

Voice

Song given mainly during gliding phase of display flight is a loud, far-carrying and rapidly repeated elements, rendered “deele”, “tweedley” or “liro”; commonest call an excited, shrill but rather dry and not melodious “chiff-chiff-chiff” or “weef-weef-weef”, while other, less frequently heard calls generally recall quieter notes of T. ochropus or T. nebularia.

Habitat

Peatlands, open swampy areas in boreal forest, especially scrubland between tundra and coniferous forest, wet heathlands with or without scattered conifers, and marshlands with deciduous bushes. Outside breeding season, generally not associated with woodlands; found in more open areas than those favoured by T. ochropus, including open margins of inland fresh waters, muddy marshes, grassy streambanks, sewage farms, wet paddyfields, dam lakes#R, tiny temporary pools and streams; only rarely in coastal habitats, such as channels of saltmarshes and mangrove swamps.

Food and feeding

On breeding grounds chiefly takes small, especially aquatic, insects, up to 2 cm long, e.g. beetles, Hemiptera, larvae of Diptera. Elsewhere, aquatic and terrestrial insects and their larvae, worms, spiders, crustaceans, molluscs, small fish (up to 2 cm), tadpoles and even frogs; sometimes plant matter (seeds). Gleans, pecks, probes or sweeps bill through water; also able to catch flying insects from air. Mainly detects prey visually. Feeds in shallow water or on mud; occasionally swims. Often feeds singly, but also in pairs or scattered groups. May defend feeding territories.

Breeding

Lays May to mid Jul. Monogamous, with male or female generally arriving on nesting grounds simultaneously#R. Solitary; normally 1–10 pairs/km², but up to 50 birds/km² in forest tundra. Nest is scrape (mean diameter 8–10 cm, 4–5 cm deep)#R lined with moss, stems and leaves, on ground among dense cover; also frequently in trees, in old nests of other species, e.g. thrush (Turdus)#R. Four eggs, sometimes three, with laying interval 1–2 days, pale greenish or olive with blackish-brown or purplish-brown markings, mean size 38·3 mm × 26·4 mm#R; single brood; incubation 22–23 days, by both sexes; chick pale buff to pale cream marked fuscous black and mottled greyish brown to cinnamon on upper back, with wide dark cap and white belly; from 7–10 days after hatching, care of young usually only by male, at least in latter half of period; fledging 28–30 days. Annual adult mortality 46%, first-year mortality 83–88%. Oldest ringed bird 11 years, seven months#R. Age of first breeding one year.

Movements

Migratory. Many move to sub-Saharan Africa and India, few to Australia, with limited evidence of winter site fidelity documented in Africa#R#R. On migration, scarce in W Europe, especially during N migration in May, commoner Aug to mid Sept (overall late Jun to mid Oct through Switzerland)#R. Migration across Europe and Middle East overland on broad front, predominantly S–SSW and probably in relatively short hops (< 1200 km#R, although suggested to be capable of flights of 3500–4000 km)#R; scarce in Britain and Ireland; many stopover in N Mediterranean, especially France (Camargue) and Italy, whereafter they overfly Sahara, chiefly in SW direction to W Africa; common on passage through C Chad. Spring migration probably more easterly and has advanced in recent decades#R, with briefer pauses and males moving earlier#R, passing through C Europe between mid Apr and early Jun#R (peak early to mid May), and movement throughout Europe occurring from mid Mar to late Jun#R. Birds wintering in E & S Africa originate from former USSR; birds wintering in India from breeding zone in Siberia between Tyumen and R Kolyma. Many E Siberian breeders pass through S Ussuriland, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, E China and Hong Kong to SE Asian wintering grounds, with only small fraction continuing to Australia, where mainly in NW; also movements through N China and Tibet. In spring (May–Jun), large numbers (sometimes 100s) pass W Aleutians, with records (mainly in autumn) of vagrants from both Pacific (British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California) and Atlantic coasts (Delaware, Newfoundland, New York, Rhode Island) of North America, and one in Yukon#R. Exceptional vagrant to, among others, Greenland, Azores, Bermuda, Caribbean (Barbados: five records, first in 1955#R; Guadeloupe: Sept 2000#R; Tobago: Dec 1996–Feb 1997)#R, as well as to New Britain, Bougainville#R and Samoa (Mar 1996)#R.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). European breeding population estimated at up to 1,400,000 pairs, representing probably around one fifth to quarter of total world population (1994). Possibly more than 1,000,000 birds wintering in SW Asia and E & C Africa, where 250,000–500,000 in Sudan, 30,000 on W shore of L Edward, DRCongo; 100,000s in SC Asia and in E & SE Asia. In W Africa, up to 15,000 winter in Mali#R. Australian non-breeding population estimated at 6000 birds; has benefited from irrigation schemes and construction of open sewage ponds. Breeding population has declined in some European countries, especially Finland, where 200,000–300,000 pairs in late 1980s; decline mainly due to exploitation, destruction or drainage of peatlands for forestry and agriculture; decline noted in Denmark (35 pairs in 1985), S Sweden, Germany (formerly common, but fewer than five pairs in mid 1980s and just one in 2005–2009)#R, Lithuania (at most 40–50 pairs), Poland (just 5–10 pairs in 1980s) and Ukraine (50–60 pairs in 1986), possibly due to climatic changes. Populations in Sweden (50,000–100,000 pairs in late 1980s), Norway (20,000–40,000 pairs in 1970–1990) and European Russia (100,000–1,000,000 pairs in 1970–1990) were fairly stable at end of 20th century, while numbers have been increasing in Fennoscandia during present century#R; status of population E of Urals poorly known. Very rare breeding bird in British Isles (almost always in Scotland), first recorded 1800s, but only regularly since 1959, with up to 32 pairs in single year#R#R. Occasionally breeds in Iceland (e.g. early 1980s)#R. Formerly bred in Netherlands#R and Bulgaria#R. First North American breeding record in 1969.

Recommended citation

Van Gils, J., Wiersma, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2018). Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/53910 on 14 December 2018).