Common Redshanks are quickly identified by their red legs, but confusion
if their legs are mud-covered. And juveniles may have greenish-yellow
During the breeding season, Common Redshanks hunt insects, spiders,
worms. The rest of the time, they also eat molluscs and crustaceans, and
sometimes small fishes and tadpoles.
Common Redshanks patrol rocky, muddy or sandy shores walking in an
easy continuous fast pace, regularly pecking at the surface. They find
their food by sight and only rarely probe into the mud or sand.
They may also sweep their bills through the water. They follow the
outgoing tideline, even wading or swimming into the water to be first to
scour the emerging mudflats. They feed both during the day and at night,
whenever the tidal situation best suits their foraging style.
Common Redshanks feed in dense flocks for safety, especially on open
areas (mudflats or flooded grasslands) and at high tide. But at low
tide, they spread out. Some adults may also defend feeding territories.
They also roost together in large flocks, often with other waders.
Wary and nervous birds, Common Redshanks are often the first to panic
and give noisy alarm calls to other nearby waders. When disturbed, they
constantly bob their tail. They prefer marine habitats and only visit
freshwater wetlands when high tides submerge coastal roosts.
Breeding (April-June): Common Redshanks breed across the Pelearctic:
Iceland, Britain, much of Europe, the Middle East, and temperate Asia
(e.g., the Himalayas up to 4,500m). Common Redshanks are monogamous and
pairs will return to the same site and same partner. Male courtship
display includes a rising and falling "yodelling" song flight during
which he vibrates his wings held downwards below the horizontal.
Common Redshanks nest on a wide variety of inland and coastal wetland
habitats. They are usually breed in high density at coastal saltmarshes,
inland damp grasslands, but are also found in swampy moorlands and high
grass steppes. They may form loose breeding colonies and are not
strongly territorial. In fact, when a predator attacks a nest, all the
adults gather from a wide area to mob it.
The nest is just a shallow depression on the ground, concealed near
or under vegetation, e.g., at the base of long grasses, with the grass
stems forming a roof. The male builds the base and the female lines it
with twigs and leaves. 3-5, average 4, eggs are laid. Both parents
incubate, usually 22-25 days. The About a day after they hatch, the
young disperse from the nest to feed themselves, although the parents
keep a watchful eye on them. Initially, both parents look after the
young. But the female usually leaves the breeding site first. The male
remains to look after the young until they fledge at about a month old.
Sometimes, the parents split up the chicks between them, raising them
Migration: Common Redshanks can be seen in large numbers during
migrations, in flocks of up to 80. They are, however, less migratory
than others of the Tringa species. Migration distances range from 500 to
6,500km one-way. They usually migrate at night. Some populations in
Western Europe and Iceland are resident. Others winter in areas from
Africa to the Philippines. In Singapore, they winter on muddy coasts,
occasionally inland swamps, avoiding inland and freshwater areas. Their
numbers peak around September.
Status and threats: Common Redshanks are not considered endangered.
However, their numbers are falling primarily due to the loss of their
breeding grounds as these are converted for agriculture and other human
uses. On the other hand, grazing by domestic cattle actually helps to
create suitable low-grass areas for Common Redshanks to nest.