Nordmann's Greenshank Tringa guttifer Scientific name definitions

Philipp N. Maleko, Vladimir V. Pronkevich, and Konstantin S. Maslovsky
Version: 2.0 — Published February 19, 2021


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Swimming and Diving


Preening, Head-scratching, Stretching, Bathing, Anting

Uses bill and feet to preen, often dipping them in water beforehand. On breeding grounds, bathes in flowing channels at the mouth of rivers, in water 5–10 cm deep. Frequently dunks head below the surface, lifting water on its back and letting it flow between its puffed-up body feathers, simultaneously, rubbing the back and sides of its head on its wings and back. It often sways from side to side, soaking its wings and ruffling and re-submerging its flanks and belly (VPP). Intermittently, it rapidly thrashes its wings on the waters’ surface. It is not known to exhibit a flight-bathing behavior like other Tringa sandpipers (140). No reports of anting.

Sleeping, Roosting

They are considered “remarkably inactive” when roosting; upon arrival they almost immediately assume a sleeping posture and can remain in one position for several hours (10, 3, 92). When sleeping or resting, the species turns its head to the right, placing it on its back and hiding the beak under its wing (18).

Daily Time Budget

No information.

Agonistic Behavior

Territorial Behavior

On breeding grounds, may chase conspecifics and other shorebirds, such as Common Redshank, away from mates or foraging territories (VVP). No information on territoriality on the nonbreeding grounds.

Sexual Behavior

Mating System and Operational Sex Ratio

Monogamous. Sex ratio is unknown.

Courtship, Copulation, and Pair Bond

Males perform courtship displays similar to other Tringa sandpipers: they fly 30–60 m above the ground in loose circles or straight lines, undulating with smooth gliding descents of 2–3 m and rapid, flapping ascents to their initial height, continuously trilling (see Figure 2, Sounds and Vocal Behavior: Vocal Array) (18, 60). These display flights can last anywhere from several seconds to 10 minutes. They occur along foraging territories, or between foraging areas and inland nesting locations. Males only display in the nesting area during nest-site scouting or nest building. The species typically displays during warm and clear days rather than cold, windy, or foggy days. Sometimes a group of 3–4 birds fly and display in unison; however, it is assumed these are males who have lost their mates or subadult nonbreeding individuals (18).

Before copulation, the male (while trilling) arrives to the females’ general location by a low flight or rapid run. He then warily approaches the female while producing a loud copulatory chatter. Receptive females remain silent but assume an encouraging position with their rumps pointed skyward; unreceptive females chatter and peck at approaching males. If encouraged, the male raises his wings parallel to the ground and begins to rapidly flutter his wingtips, accelerating his copulatory chatter as he approaches the female. To copulate, the male flutters up onto the female’s back and balances himself while lowering his tail around her body. The female in turn raises her tail, allowing a cloacal kiss which lasts one or two seconds. The pair then separate with a short flight, and land near one another with wings raised for a few seconds. Both the female and male then produce a copulatory chatter while distancing themselves. They then fluff their feathers, lightly preen, and return to normal daily activities. Copulatory observations by PM, VVP, KM in Schaste Bay, 2019.

Pair bonds may last multiple seasons (VVP).

Extra-Pair Mating Behavior/Paternity

No information.

Brood Parasitism of Conspecifics

No evidence.

Brood Parasitism of Other Species

No evidence.

Social and Interspecific Behavior

Throughout its nonbreeding range, the species is often gregarious; it is solitary only when foraging and often roosts with large flocks of Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola), as well as mixed-species flocks of Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia), Common Redshank (T. totanus), Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris), godwits (Limosa spp.), curlews (Numenius spp.), and other medium-sized waders (6, 129, 22, 78, 141, 90, 73). Is also loosely associates with smaller shorebird species such as Dunlin (Calidris alpina), Broad-billed Sandpiper (Calidris falcinellus), the endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Calidris pygmaea), and various stints (Calidris spp.) (73). Nordmann’s Greenshank may roost communally to take advantage of other species’ vigilance and ultimately reduce their predation risk and energy expenditure (92). This tendency to distribute themselves in mixed-species flocks makes the species especially difficult to survey accurately (112).

On the breeding grounds, often associates with Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica), Great Knot, and other Nordmann’s Greenshanks (62, 63). The species marks the arrival and departure of associated conspecifics and allies, often producing “welcoming” vocalizations to a returning bird (116). Adults may help nearby intraspecific family groups ward off brood predators and other threats. It is also thought that the species breeds in intraspecific “diffused colonies” of 3–10 pairs, and even today suspected breeding pairs are found in small congregations (see Breeding: Cooperative Breeding) (18, 43, 117, 55, 56, 50, 54).


Kinds of Predators

The main avian predator on the breeding grounds is the Eurasian Hobby (Falco subbuteo) (VPP). In 2019, a fledgling was likely depredated by a Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) at Schaste Bay (VPP, KM). The Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos) and Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) are significant nest predators, with Large-billed Crows also known to hunt adult shorebirds (43, 142, VPP). Other potential predators include red fox (Vulpes vulpes) (43). No information on predator community within nonbreeding areas.

Manner of Depredation

No information.

Response to Predators

When an avian predator flies overhead, produces a soft contact call and then silently crouches for a brief period, resuming normal activity when the threat is gone (VPP). It has never been observed being chased by an avian predator. Breeding adults scan for predators from high perches and produce loud calls when a predator is near a brood or a mate. They then often fly in small circles around a potential threat, alarm calling incessantly (18, VVP). The species has been observed to alarm call near caribou (Rangifer tarandus) during brood-rearing, and a group of 2 or 3 males has, on occasion, been observed to chase Carrion Crows (Corvus corone) (18). The adult may also attempt to lead a ground predator away from a brood by landing and walking in the opposite direction, or performing a pseudo broken-wing display (see Breeding: Parental Care).

Recommended Citation

Maleko, P. N., V. V. Pronkevich, and K. S. Maslovsky (2021). Nordmann's Greenshank (Tringa guttifer), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, P. G. Rodewald, and B. K. Keeney, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.norgre1.02