Unsorted Wild Birds

Common Redshanks or Redshanks

The Common Redshanks (Tringa totanus) or, simply Redshanks – are middle-sized stilts (waders) found throughout Europe, Africa and Asia to Sulawesi in Indonesia

Amongst the Tringa species, the Common Redshanks and the Spotted Redshanks are the only ones with red legs. Outside the nesting season, they are usually found along sea coasts.

Notwithstanding their physical similarities, the Common Redshanks are not closely related to the Common Redshanks.

Instead, the Common Redshank shares ancestry with the Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola) and the Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis).

These birds are wary and nervous – and, when disturbed, are the first to panic and give noisy alarm calls to other nearby waders.


Distribution / Habitat

Common Redshanks breed across temperate Eurasia and migrate to winter on the coasts around the Mediterranean, on the Atlantic coast of Iceland south through Great Britain and much of Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia.

Occasionally, vagrants of this bird are spotted in the island country of Palau located in the western Pacific Ocean, where they were recorded in the mid-1970s and 2000.

Some populations in Western Europe (including those occurring in the British Isles) and even Iceland are resident (non-migratory), as are most of those occurring in Southern Europe. Those birds that migrate do so in large flocks of up to 80, and most traveling is done at night.

Their preferred breeding habitats are marshes, moist meadows, and grasslands. During the winter season, they are mostly found along the sea coasts and occasionally in inland swamps and wetlands, when high tides submerge their coastal roosts. They usually avoid inland and freshwater areas.

The Common Redshanks are protected by the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA).

Subspecies and Ranges:

  • Common Redshank (Tringa totanus totanus – Linnaeus, 1758) – Nominate Form
    • Range: Breed in Western Europe, in Ireland, on the Orkney and Shetland islands (north of mainland Scotland) and in northern Scandinavia south to the Iberian Peninsula (Andorra, Gibraltar, Portugal and Spain), northern Italy, Tunisia and Turkey, east to western Siberia. Winter from the Mediterranean south to tropical Africa, and east to India and Indonesia. The British breeds were formerly separated as ssp. britannicus but are now included within the nominate subspecies.
  • Iceland Redshank, North Atlantic Island Common Redshank (Tringa totanus robusta – Schiøler, 1919)
    • Range: Breed in Iceland, Faeroes, and possibly Scotland and migrate south to winter in the British Isles and Western Europe.
    • ID: Larger and more heavily spotted than the nominate tetanus
  • Central Asian Common Redshank (Tringa totanus ussuriensis – Buturlin, 1934)
    • Range: Breed in southern Siberia and Mongolia east to northern Manchuria and Russian Far East. Winter from the eastern Mediterranean and east Africa through the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, and Arabia to western India.
    • ID: Their plumage has a richer cinnamon tone to the plumage than the nominate race totanus or ssp. robusta.
  • Eastern Redshank (Tringa totanus eurhinus – Oberholser, 1900)
    • Range: Breed in Pamirs, northern India, and central and southern Tibet. Winter in India.
  • Tringa totanus terrignotae (R. and A. C. Meinertzhagen, 1926)
    • Range: Breed in Southern Manchuria and winter in southeastern and eastern Asia.
  • Tringa totanus craggi (Hale, 1971)
    • Range: Nest in northwestern Xinjiang in northwestern China. Believed to be winter in eastern China.


The slender Common Redshanks measure 10.6 – 11.4 inches (27 – 29 cm) in length – including the tail. The black-tipped red bill is about 1.2 – 2 inches (3 -5 cm) long. The legs are reddish (turning redder in breeding birds).

Breeding Plumage: Plumage mostly marbled brown, slightly paler below with a pattern of somewhat diffuse small brownish bars or streaks on the chest and neck. The whitish rump and lower back are most easily seen in flight.

Winter Plumage: Lighter-toned and less pattern. The upper plumage is plain greyish-brown. Whitish below.


The upper parts are brown and streaked darker. The bill is a dull reddish brown and the legs greenish-yellow in color.

Similar Species

The more northern form – the Spotted Redshank – has longer legs and a longer and more slender bill. Their breeding plumage is almost entirely black and during the winter their plumage is very pale. They lack the white trailing edge to the secondary wing feathers.

Diet / Feeding

Common Redshanks feed on small invertebrates, such as aquatic insects and their larvae, as well as insects, spiders, and worms found on rocky, muddy, or sandy shores.

These energetic foragers are often up to their flanks in water rapidly feeding with traditional sideways movements; or swimming, occasionally immersing the head and neck at which point they look like diving ducks.

They feed both during the day and at night – highly depending on the tidal situation.

Breeding / Nesting

Common Redshanks are monogamous and will usually return to the same nest site with the same partner year after year.

Nesting is preceded by the male’s courtship display, which involves a rising and falling “yodeling” song made in flight during which he vibrates his wings held downwards.

They will nest in inland and coastal wetland habitats – from inland damp meadows, coastal saltmarshes, swampy moorlands, and high grass steppes, where they often nest at high densities. They are not very territorial, but will instead readily protect the nests of other pairs against predators by mobbing them.

The nest is usually a shallow depression on the ground, near or under vegetation. The male builds the base and the female lines the nest with twigs and leaves.

They lay 3-5 eggs (average), which are incubated for 22 – 29 days. The hatchlings develop quickly and can disperse from the nest to feed themselves only one day after hatching. However, they remain close to their parents for protection. Initially, both parents take care of all the young, but occasionally, they split them up between them and raise them separately.

The young fledge are independent when they are about 25 – 35 days old.

Common Redshanks usually only produce one brood a season.

Calls / Vocalizations / Sounds

They are wary and noisy birds which will alert everything else with their loud piping call. Their calls made in flight are described as loud teu-hoo or teu-hoo-hoo. When alarmed, the intensity and speed increases.

Sound Recordings

Alternate (Global) Names

Afrikaans: Rooipootruiter … Albanian: Qyrylyku këmbëqirizë … Arabic: ??????? ????? ?????, ??????? ????? ????? ???? … Armenian: ???????? ?????, ?????????? ????? … Asturian: Chibibí, Mazaricu Rial/Chibibí … Azerbaijani: Otluq cüllütü … Basque: Bernagorri arrunt, Bernagorri arrunta, Gamba roja vulgar … Belarusian: ?????-?????? … Bulgarian: ????? ??????????? ?????????, ????? ?????????? ????????? … Breton: Ar strelleg pavioù ruz, Strelleg … Catalan: Cama-roja, Gamba roja vulgar, Picarot … Chinese: [chi-zu yu], [hong-jiao yu], ???, ???, ??? … Cornish: Gar ruth … Croatian: Crvenonoga Prutka … Czech: Vodouš rudonohý … Danish: Rødben … Dutch: Tureluur … Faroese: Stelkur … Finnish: Punajalkaviklo … French: Chevalier gambette … German: Gambettwasserlaüfer, Rotschenkel … Greek: ?????????????, ??????????????? … Hebrew: ?????? ???? ???, ?????? ????????, ?????? ????-???, ????? ???? ???, ????? ???????? … Hindi: Kottan … Hungarian: Piroslábú cankó … Icelandic: Stelkur … Indonesian: Trinil kaki-merah … Irish: Cosdeargán, Ladhrán deargchosach, Ladhrán trá … Italian: Pettegola … Japanese: akaashishigi, Akaashi-shigi, Aka-gane shigi … Kazakh: ???????? … Korean: ????? … Lithuanian: Raudonkojis tulikas … Mongolian: ???? ???? ?????? … Maltese: Pluverott … Norwegian: Rødstilk … Polish: Brodziec krwawodziob, Brodziec krwawodzioby, Brodziec sniady, Brodziec ?niady, krwawodziób, krwawodziób (brodziec krwawodzioby) … Portuguese: maçarico-de-perna-vermelha, perna vermelha, Perna-vermelha, Perna-vermelha-comum … Russian: Travnik, ???????, ???????, ??? ??????????? … Scots: Cam ghlas, Feadag … Slovak: Kalužiak ?ervenonohý … Slovenian: rdecenogi martinec, rde?enogi martinec … Serbian: crvenonogi prudnik, ?????????? ??????? … Spanish: Archibebe Comun, Archibebe Común … Swedish: Rödbena … Swahili: Chamchanga Miguu-hina … Thai: ??????????? … Turkish: K?z?lbacak, kyzylbacak … Tuvinian: ?????-???????? … Ukrainian: ????????? ??????????, ?????????? ?????????, ??????? … Valencian: Picarot … Vietnamese: Cho?t nu … Welsh: Coesgoch, Goesgoch, Pibydd coesgoch, Pibydd goesgoch, Troedgoch


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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