Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)


[order] CHARADRIIFORMES | [family] Scolopacidae | [latin] Tringa nebularia | [UK] Greenshank | [FR] Chevalier aboyeur | [DE] Grunschenkel | [ES] Archibebe Claro | [NL] Groenpootruiter


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range

Physical charateristics

Tringa with long, robust, slightly uptilted bill and dull green legs. Upperparts spotted and streaked black-brown, lesser wing coverts browner. Head, neck and upper breast streaked brown-black.
In flight, shows dark wings, white back and rump. Paler above than T. melanoleuca, with longer legs than former.
Female averages slightly larger. Non-breeding adult has feathers of upperparts rather uniform grey, without dark markings. Breast, foreneck and face white. Stronger contrasting dark wing coverts. Juvenile resembles non-breeding adult, but upperparts browner with buff fringes and neck and breast somewhat more streaked.

Listen to the sound of Greenshank


Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 55 cm wingspan max.: 62 cm
size min.: 30 cm size max.: 34 cm
incubation min.: 22 days incubation max.: 26 days
fledging min.: 25 days fledging max.: 26 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 4  


Eurasia : widespread


Taiga zone, in forest clearings, woody moorland or open bogs and marshes, including blanket bog. Characteristic of northern and middle taiga.
On migration, occurs at inland flooded meadows, dried-up laces, sandbars and marshes.
Winters in variety of fershwater and marine wetlands, including estuaries, sandy or muddy coastal flats, salt marshes, mangroves, swamps and lakes. Less often on open coast, sometimes along quiet stretches of rivers.


Egg laying from April to June. Usually monogamous, though some males bigamous. High degree of site fidelity, but new generations don’t built near parent nest (no natal philopatry). Nest is a shallow scrape lined with some plant material, on ground in the open, typically placed next to piece of dead wood. 4 eggs are laid in a single brood, incubation 24 days done by both sexes, but males with two mates normally do little incubation. Chick pale grey marked above with fuscous black, white belly.

Feeding habits

Diet chiefly insects, especially beetles, but also crustaceans, annelids, molluscs, amphibians and small fish.
Usually pecks and probes in shallow water walking with steady pass, sometimes running with erratic changes of direction. When feeding on fish may forage socially in dense flocks of conspecifics or mixed with other tringines, moving erratically while pecking at prey or running synchronously in one direction, ploughing or scything bill through water.
Singly or in small to large flocks of up to 100’s. Feeds diurnally and nocturnally.


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.
Greenshank status Least Concern


Migratory. Like other Tringa, will migrate on broad fronts overland. Especially in western Europe, however, largest numbers pass through coastal (especially estuarine) sites. Small numbers winter in western Europe, in Mediterranean basin, and on Atlantic coast of north-west Africa; however, majority of west Palearctic birds are trans-Saharan migrants (penetrating south to Cape Province). Further east, winter range extends to Indian Ocean islands and across southern Asia from Iraq to eastern China and Philippines, and through Melanesia to Australia.
One parent (usually ), but not always) leaves territory in late June or first half July, when young c. 4 weeks old; other parent and young depart when latter fully fledged, 3-6 weeks later. Main autumn passage through northern and temperate Europe from 2nd week of July to late October. Return movement begins March in Africa; passage through Europe (in general more direct, and without large coastal concentrations noted in autumn) evident in April, though main movement through North Sea countries and into Fenno-Scandia in first half of May. Some non-breeders remain south all summer.

Distribution map

Greenshank distribution range map

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