Species Profile and Threats Database

For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed marine
Listed migratory - Bonn, CAMBA, ROKAMBA
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Other EPBC Act Plans Background Paper to the Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2005c) [Wildlife Conservation Plan].
Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2006f) [Wildlife Conservation Plan].
Policy Statements and Guidelines Draft Significant impact guidelines for 36 migratory shorebirds Draft EPBC Act Policy Statement 3.21 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2009aj) [Admin Guideline].
Draft background paper to EPBC Act policy statement 3.21 (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2009bc) [Admin Guideline].
Shorebirds - A Vulnerability Assessment for the Great Barrier Reef (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), 2011i) [Admin Guideline].
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
List of Migratory Species (13/07/2000) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000b) [Legislative Instrument].
Declaration under section 248 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of Marine Species (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000c) [Legislative Instrument].
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - Listed Migratory Species - Approval of an International Agreement (Commonwealth of Australia, 2007h) [Legislative Instrument].
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Least Concern (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
Scientific name Tringa totanus [835]
Family Scolopacidae:Charadriiformes:Aves:Chordata:Animalia
Species author (Linnaeus,1758)
Infraspecies author  
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Tringa totanus

Common name: Common Redshank

The Common Redshank is 27–29 cm long, has a wingspan of 48–55 cm and weighs around 120 g. It is a somewhat dumpy wader, with long orange-red legs and a straight, medium-length bill with a reddish base. With regards to its plumage, the species is characterised by a bold white rump and a V on the back. It has a broad white trailing-edge to innerwing in flight. In flight the feet project beyond the tip of the tail (Higgins & Davies 1996).

In Australia, the Common Redshank has been recorded at scattered locations. In Queensland, the species is known to occur in the Cairns district. In New South Wales (NSW) there is a record at Wallagoot Lakes. In South Australia (SA), the species is known to occur at the ICI Saltfields, St Kilda and Bool Lagoon. In Western Australia (WA), the species is vargrant to the south-west with records at Peel Inlet, Coodanup, the Gascoyne region, Coral Bay and Carnarvon (Higgins & Davis 1996). It is regular and widespread in the north-west, from the Dampier Saltfields to Roebuck Bay and Broome. There is also a record at Ashmore Reef. In the Northern Territory (NT), the species is an irregular visitor to Darwin. It has also been recorded near Buffalo Creek, Cameron Beach, Lee Point, the Sanderson Sewage Farm, the Palmerston Sewage Farm and Elizabeth Downs (Higgins & Davies 1996).

The Common Redshank is considered common on the Cocos-Keeling Islands and Christmas Islands (Higgins & Davies 1996).


In Europe, the Common Redshank is sparsely scattered in western Europe, but more widespread in eastern Europe from the Baltic coasts to the Aegean Sea. Breeding occurs in Iceland, the British Isles, Scandinavia (Norway, northern Sweden, the Baltic coasts of Sweden and Finland and is scattered in Denmark). It is widespread in Russia, breeding from the north Kola Peninsula and west and south of the White Sea. The species is sparsely scattered on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey (Higgins & Davies 1996).


In Asia, the species is found in north-east China, Transbaikalia, Mongolia, north-west Sinkiang, Kazakhstan and near the northern Aral Sea, Buzachi Peninsula and the northern and western shores of the Caspian Sea. The species is also found in northern Iran, the northern and western shores of the Black Sea and southern Romania. The species is known to breed in south Ussuriland, on the coasts of northern Sakhalin and west Sea of Okhotsk. It is found in a belt around the Himalayas, round the upper reaches of the Indus and Brahmaputra Rivers and Tibet as well as in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tadzikistan, the coasts of India and the Arabian sea and the Indo-Malayan coastline to the Philippines and Micronesia. It is also found in Borneo, Sumatra, Bali and Timor (Higgins & Davies 1996).

East Asian-Australiasian Flyway

An estimated 75 000 Common Redshank occupy the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF). This compares to a global population of 1 019 500–2 531 500. During the non-breeding season most of the Flyway population occurs in China (Bamford et al. 2008).

Important sites

During the non-breeding season, 18 important sites have been identified internationally. Note that an important site is calculated using the 1% criterion (i.e. a site is considered important if it is occupied by more then 1% of the bird's total population). The following table lists important sites (Bamford et al. 2008):

Site Country Max Count
Banyuasin Delta Indonesia 6000
Pulau Bruit Malaysia 3789
Poyang Hu National Nature Reserve (NNR) China 3000
Irrawaddy Delta Malaysia 2872
Daursky Nature Reserve Russia 2000
Yancheng NNR China 1944
Inner Gulf of Thailand Thailand 1523
Pulau Tengah (Klang Islands) Malaysia 1500
Kapar Power Station Malaysia 1420
Manila Bay Philippines 1369
East Dongting Hu NNR China 1300
K. Tungal to T. Djabung coast Indonesia 1024
Kuala Gula Malaysia 1005
Bagan Percut - Sungai Ular Indonesia 1000
Gaoyou Hu/Shabo Hu China 900
Kuala Samarahan to Kuala Sadong Malaysia 835
Shi Jiu Tuo/Daqing He China 800
Ulbanskiy Bay Russia 221

The Common Redshank is found at sheltered coastal wetlands such as bays, river estuaries, lagoons, inlets and saltmarsh (with bare open flats and banks of mud or sand). They are also found around saltlakes, freshwater lagoons, artificial wetlands and saltworks and sewage farms (Higgins & Davies 1996).

The Common Redshank has been observed feeding in shallow water, on wet bare mud or sand, or on algal deposits, round the edges of wetlands, near rocks or samphire (Higgins & Davies 1996). They have been recorded roosting on small elevated areas such as estuarine sandbars and muddy islets surrounded by water (Higgins & Davies 1996).

The Common Redshank is carnivorous and known to consume worms, molluscs, crustaceans, spiders and insects. It has also been recorded eating fish and tadpoles. The species is diurnal and nocturnal; they locate prey by sight during the day and use touch at night. They feed on rocky, sandy or muddy shores (Higgins & Davies 1996).

The Common Redshank is larger and bulkier than the Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa totanus) with proportionately shorter legs and shorter stout bill. It is slightly smaller and less bulkier than the Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia) with a proportionately shorter bill and legs, appearing much more compact (Higgins & Davies 1996).


Habitat loss

There are a number of threats that affect migratory shorebirds in the East Asian-Australiasian Flyway (EAAF). The greatest threat is direct and indirect habitat loss (Melville 1997). Staging areas used during migration through eastern Asia are being lost and degraded by activities which are reclaiming the mudflats for development including aquaculture (Barter 2002, 2005c; Ge et al. 2007; Round 2006). This is especially evident in the Yellow Sea, where at least 40% of intertidal areas have been reclaimed. This process is continuing at a rapid rate and may accelerate in the near future (Barter 2002, 2005c). For example, in South Korea, the Mangyeung and Dongjin River estuaries each supported 5% of the combined estimated Flyway populations (and are the most important sites for this species on both northern and southern migration) but they will be reclaimed as part of the Saemangeum Reclamation Project (Barter 2002, 2005c). As part of the Project, a 33 km sea-wall across these two estuaries was completed in April 2006, significantly affecting the 40 100 ha area used by the species (Barter 2005c). Reclamation is also a threat in other areas of the EAAF, such as in Malaysia (Wei et al. 2006).

Reduction in quality and quantity of water

Water regulation and diversion infrastructure in the major tributaries have resulted in the reduction of water and sediment flows (Barter 2002; Barter et al. 1998). For example, reduction in river flows in parts of China, due to upstream water diversion, represents potentially significant threats to the species which is present in internationally significant numbers (Barter 2005c; Barter et al. 1998). Migratory shorebirds are also adversely affected by pollution, both on passage and in non-breeding areas. As a result, intensive oil exploration and extraction in China are other potentially signficant threats (Harding et al. 2007; Melville 1997; Round 2006; Wei et al. 2006).


Disturbance can result from residential and recreational activities including fishing, power boating, four wheel driving, walking dogs, noise and night lighting. While some disturbances may have only a low impact, it is important to consider the combined effect of disturbances with other threats. Roosting and foraging birds are sensitive to discrete, unpredictable disturbances such as loud noises (for example, construction sites) and approaching objects (for example, boats). Sustained disturbances can prevent shorebirds from using parts of the habitat (DEWHA 2009aj). It is likely that human related disturbances will increase significantly in the future (Barter et al. 2005; Davidson & Rothwell 1993).

Global warming

Global warming and associated changes in sea level are likely to have a long-term impact on the breeding, staging and non-breeding grounds of migratory waders (Harding et al. 2007).


Hunting is still a very serious problem for waders in China, and this species is sometimes caught (Ming et al. 1998).


Habitat loss

The loss of important habitat reduces the availability of foraging and roosting sites. This affects the ability of the birds to build up the energy stores required for successful migration and breeding. Some sites are important all year round for juveniles who may stay in Australia throughout the breeding season until they reach maturity. A variety of activities may cause habitat loss. These include direct losses through land clearing, inundation, infilling or draining. Indirect loss may occur due to changes in water quality, hydrology or structural changes near roosting sites (DEWHA 2009aj).

Habitat degradation

As most migratory shorebirds have specialised feeding techniques, they are particularly susceptible to slight changes in prey sources and foraging environments. Activities that cause habitat degradation include (but are not restricted to):

  • loss of marine or estuarine vegetation, which is likely to alter the dynamic equilibrium of sediment banks and mudflats
  • invasion of intertidal mudflats by weeds such as cord grass
  • water pollution and changes to the surface water regime
  • changes to the hydrological regime
  • exposure of acid sulphate soils, hence changing the chemical balance at the site (DEWHA 2009aj).

Direct mortality

Direct mortality is a result of human activities around the migration pathways of shorebirds and at roosting and foraging sites. Examples include the construction of wind farms in migration or movement pathways, bird strike due to aircraft, hunting, chemical and oil spills (DEWHA 2009aj).

Governments and conservation groups have undertaken a wide range of activities relating to migratory shorebird conservation (AGDEH 2005c) both in Australia and in cooperation with other countries associated with the EAAF.


EAAF shorebird conservation initiatives

The Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (AGDEH 2006f) outlines national activities to support the Flyway shorebird conservation initiatives and provides a strategic framework to ensure these activities and future research and management actions are integrated and remain focused on the long-term survival of migratory shorebird populations and their habitats.

Natural Heritage Trust

From the mid 1990s to the mid 2000s, the Australian Government invested approximately $5 000 000 of Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) funding in projects contributing to migratory shorebird conservation (DEWHA 2007e). This funding was distributed across a range of projects, including: the implementation of a nationally coordinated monitoring programme that aimed to produce robust, long-term population data to support the conservation and effective management of shorebirds and their habitat: migration studies using colour bands and leg flags; and development of a shorebird conservation toolkit to assist users to develop and implement shorebird conservation projects.

Birds Australia

Birds Australia is currently co-ordinating the Shorebirds 2020 project, which aims to monitor shorebird populations at important sites throughout Australia. Birdlife International is identifying sites and regions which are important to various species of birds, including shorebirds, and the processes that are affecting them. The aim of these activities is to inform decisions on the management of shorebird habitat. It may be possible to rehabilitate some degraded wetlands or to create artificial wader feeding or roosting sites to replace those destroyed by development, such as by creating artificial sandflats and sand islands from dredge spoil and by building breakwaters (Dening 2005; Straw 1992a, 1999).

Significant Impact Guidelines

The Commonwealth government has prepared Draft Significant Impact Guidelines for 36 Migratory Birds (DEWHA 2009aj). This policy statement is designed to assist any person who proposes to undertake an action(s) to decide whether or not the action may be significant and whether they should submit a referral under the EPBC Act. In addition, the document provides mitigation strategies to reduce the level or extent of those impacts. More generally, it promotes sustainable development that allows for the continued ecological functioning of important habitat for migratory shorebirds. The policy statement applies to the 36 species wherever they occur within Australia or its territories, but does not apply to migratory shorebirds when they are outside Australia.


Australia has played an important role in building international cooperation to conserve migratory birds. In addition to being party to international agreements on migratory species, Australia is also a member of the Partnership for the Conservation of Migratory Waterbirds and the Sustainable Use of their Habitats in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (Flyway Partnership), which was launched in Bogor, Indonesia on 6 November 2006. Prior to this agreement, Australia was party to the Asia-Pacific Migratory Waterbird Conservation Strategy and the Action Plan for the Conservation of Migratory Shorebirds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway and the East Asian-Australasian Shorebird Site Network.

The East Asian-Australasian Flyway Site Network, which is part of the broader Flyway Partnership, promotes the identification and protection of key sites for migratory shorebirds. Australia has 17 sites in the network (Partnership EAAF 2008):

  • Kakadu National Park, NT (1 375 940 ha)
  • Parry Lagoons, WA (36 111 ha)
  • Thomsons Lake, WA (213 ha)
  • Moreton Bay, Queensland (113 314 ha)
  • Bowling Green Bay, Queensland
  • Shoalwater Bay, Queensland
  • Great Sandy Strait, Queensland
  • Currawinya National Park, Queensland
  • Hunter Estuary, NSW (2916 ha)
  • Corner Inlet, Victoria (51 500 ha)
  • Port Phillip Bay (Western Shoreline) and Bellarine Peninsula, Victoria (16 540 ha)
  • Western Port, Victoria (59 297 ha)
  • Discovery Bay Coastal Park, Victoria
  • Shallow Inlet Marine and Coastal Park, Victoria
  • The Coorong, Lake Alexandrina & Lake Albert, SA (140 500 ha)
  • Orielton Lagoon, Tasmania (2920 ha)
  • Logan Lagoon, Tasmania (2320 ha).

Management documents for the Common Redshank can be found at the start of the profile.

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Uncategorised:Uncategorised:threats not specified Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds (Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2006f) [Wildlife Conservation Plan].

Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH) (2005c). Background Paper to the Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Department of the Environment and Heritage. Available from:

Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH) (2006f). Wildlife Conservation Plan for Migratory Shorebirds. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Department of the Environment and Heritage. Available from:

Bamford M., D. Watkins, W. Bancroft, G. Tischler & J. Wahl (2008). Migratory Shorebirds of the East Asian - Australasian Flyway: Population estimates and internationally important sites. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Wetlands International-Oceania. Available from:

Barter, M.A. (2002). Shorebirds of the Yellow Sea: Importance, Threats and Conservation Status. Wetlands International Global Series No. 8, International Wader Studies 12. Canberra, ACT: Wetlands International.

Barter, M.A. (2005c). Yellow Sea-driven priorities for Australian shorebird researchers. In: Straw, P., ed. Status and Conservation of Shorebirds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Proceedings of the Australasian Shorebirds Conference 13-15 December 2003, Canberra, Australia. Sydney, NSW: Wetlands International Global Series 18, International Wader Studies 17.

Barter, M.A., D. Tonkinson, J.Z. Lu, S.Y. Zhu, Y. Kong, T.H. Wang, Z.W. Li & X.M. Meng (1998). Shorebird numbers in the Huang He (Yellow River) Delta during the 1997 northward migration. Stilt. 33:15-26.

Barter, M.A., K. Gosbell, L. Cao & Q. Xu (2005). Northward shorebird migration surveys in 2005 at four new Yellow Sea sites in Jiangsu and Liaoning Provinces. Stilt. 48:13-17.

Davidson, N. & P. Rothwell (1993). Disturbance to waterfowl on estuaries. Wader Study Group Bulletin. 68.

Dening, J. (2005). Roost management in south-East Queensland: building partnerships to replace lost habitat. In: Straw, P., ed. Status and Conservation of Shorebirds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Proceedings of the Australasian Shorebirds Conference 13-15 December 2003. Page(s) 94-96. Sydney, NSW. Wetlands International Global Series 18, International Wader Studies 17.

Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) (2007e). Migratory Waterbirds Information Page, Departmental Website. [Online]. Available from:

Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) (2008a). The South-West Marine Bioregional Plan: Bioregional Profile: A Description of the Ecosystems, Conservation Values and Uses of the South-West Marine Region. [Online]. Canberra: DEWHA. Available from:

Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) (2008b). North-West Marine Bioregional Plan: Bioregional Profile: A Description of the Ecosystems, Conservation Values and Uses of the North-West Marine Region. [Online]. Canberra: DEWHA. Available from:

Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) (2009aj). Draft Significant impact guidelines for 36 migratory shorebirds Draft EPBC Act Policy Statement 3.21. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia. Available from:

Ge, Z.-M., T-H. Wang, X. Zhou, K.-Y. Wang & W.-Y. Shi (2007). Changes in the spatial distribution of migratory shorebirds along the Shanghai shoreline, China, between 1984 and 2004. Emu. 107:19-27.

Harding, S.B., J.R. Wilson & D.W. Geering (2007). Threats to shorebirds and conservation actions. In: Geering, A., L. Agnew & S. Harding, eds. Shorebirds of Australia. Page(s) 197-213. Melbourne, Victoria: CSIRO Publishing.

Higgins, P.J. & S.J.J.F. Davies, eds (1996). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume Three - Snipe to Pigeons. Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press.

Melville, D.S. (1997). Threats to waders along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. In: Straw, P., ed. Shorebird conservation in the Asia-Pacific region. Page(s) 15-34. Melbourne, Victoria: Birds Australia.

Ming, M., L. Jianjian, T. Chengjia, S. Pingyue & H. Wei (1998). The contribution of shorebirds to the catches of hunters in the Shanghai area, China, during 1997-1998. Stilt. 33:32-36.

Partnership for the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (Partnership EAAF) (2008). East Asian-Australasian Flyway Site Network: October 2008. [Online]. Available from:

Round, P.D. (2006). Shorebirds in the Inner Gulf of Thailand. Stilt. 50:96-102.

Straw, P. (1992a). Relocation of Shorebirds. A Feasibility Study and Management Options. Sydney, NSW: Unpublished report by the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union for the Federal Airports Corporation.

Straw, P. (1999). Habitat remediation - a last resort?. Stilt. 35:66.

Wei, D.L.Z., Y.C. Aik, L.K. Chye, K. Kumar, L.A. Tiah, Y. Chong & C.W. Mun (2006). Shorebird survey of the Malaysian coast November 2004-April 2005. Stilt. 49:7-18.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Tringa totanus in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:03:35 +1000.