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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Endemic to the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF). The breeding grounds are along the Sea of Okhotsk coast in eastern Russia, with the overwintering range mainly in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Bangladesh. Between breeding and overwintering grounds, the species stages along the coast of China and the Korean Peninsula.

Breeding Range

Breeding distribution in the Russian Far East is based on observations of typical Tringa brooding behaviors, visual confirmation of adults with broods, or a limited number of confirmed nest locations (18, VVP). Its former and current breeding locations include the Tatar Strait, the bays along southwestern and northern Sea of Okhotsk coast, and the northern and southern coasts of Sakhalin Island.

Sakhalin Island. The species’ current status on Sakhalin Island is uncertain due to limited surveys. The bays of northeast Sakhalin Island were once considered their breeding stronghold until oil and gas exploration degraded much of the suitable breeding habitat (18, 41, 42). Notable potential breeding sites include Aniva Bay, Baikal Bay, Chaivo Bay [5 nests (4 active, 1 old) found in 1976], Dagi Bay, Nabilsky Bay, Tyk Bay, Urkt Bay, and Viakhtu Bay; as well as at the mouths of the Lakh River and Tangi River (17, 18, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47). Other possible breeding locations include Lunskiy Bay, Nuiskiy Bay, Odoptu Bay, and Piltun Bay (48, 49). Aniva Bay, Chaivo Bay, and Nabilsky Bay have been especially degraded and may no longer support breeding birds (42). In 2018, there were 4 pairs displaying brooding behaviors in Baikal Bay, and in 2010, there were 4 broods recorded at the mouth of Lakh River (50, 51).

Khabarovsk Krai. Breeding indicators have been observed along the western Sea of Okhotsk coast in central Khabarovsk Krai, particularly in Konstantin Bay, Nikolay Bay, Schaste Bay [5 nests (2 active, 3 old) found 2019–2020], Tugur Bay, and Ulban Bay. Other notable areas include the Tatar Strait, the Uda Bay, and the mouth of the Uda River near Chumikan (32, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61). It is also possible the species inhabits the Shantar Islands archipelago, but the area has not been comprehensively surveyed (VVP).

Magadan Oblast. In 1997, a German-Russian research expedition to southern Magadan Oblast found several breeding pairs, a family group with juveniles, and large flocks of migratory groups within the Malkachan Delta (62, 63, 11, 64, 65). Sighting of 3 individuals in Olskaya Lagoon, and another 3 in Amakhtonskiy Bay, indicated that the species may be more widely distributed in the area than previously thought (66, 67).

Kamchatka Oblast. The species is rare on the Kamchatka peninsula, with only a handful of recorded observations within the Moroshechnaya, Pkhin, and Stolbovaya River estuaries, and Skobeleva Bay (33, 68, 69). In late May 1980, a pair of was observed performing brooding behaviors and assumed to be with a clutch; however, due to the lack of suitable breeding habitat on the peninsula this conclusion is questionable (33, VVP). The species may be more widely distributed on Kamchatka than is currently known; however, the remote wilderness and lack of infrastructure prevents thorough surveys.

Nonbreeding Range

Staging and Stopover Distribution

Stages in small numbers along the southern Russian Far East, the Korean peninsula, and Japan, but concentrate at stopover areas in China (70, 71, 72). It is likely that the entire global population uses China’s Rudong mudflats during southward migration (73).

Primorskiy Krai, Russia. The species uses Primorskiy Krai (or Primorye) as an intermediate staging area before southward migration starts in earnest. Important sites include the Amur, Peter the Great and Ussuri Bays, Khanka Zapovednik (Nature Reserve), and other coastal areas of northern and southern Primorye (71, 74, 75).

South Korea. The species was once considered a regular migrant in South Korea with concentrations in Dongjin, Han, and Geum River estuaries, Kanghwa Island, the Saemangeum intertidal area, and Asan, Namyang and Suncheon Bays; however, since the complete reclamation of Saemangeum in 2006 it seems the country no longer supports significant numbers (76, 70, 77, 78, 79). The tidal flats near Hwaseong still supports small groups or singular individuals, but the area is scheduled to be reclaimed (NM).

North Korea. Possibly due to missing information, the species is considered a rare passage migrant in North Korea (70).

Japan. A passage migrant in Japan, singularly distributed throughout many coastal areas (8, 70, 80).

Eastern China. Large numbers regularly use coastal intertidal habitats of China as staging and stopover areas during both the rapid northward and the prolonged southward migrations. Throughout the Bohai and Yellow Sea coasts, sites of particularly high concentrations include Dandong Yalu Jiang Estuary Wetland National Nature Reserve, Dong Tai and Rudong coastal mudflats (especially Tiaozini Wetland Park where the entire world population may stop), Xiaoyangkou Wetland, Yancheng National Nature Reserve, and the Mai Po marshes in Hong Kong (70, 23, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 24, 86).

Overwintering Distribution

The most common overwintering areas for the species are in Myanmar (Bay of Martaban), Thailand (Inner Gulf), Malaysia (the entire Thai-Malay Peninsula), western Indonesia, and Bangladesh (Bay of Bengal and Meghna Delta) (74, 87, 88, 89, 90, 73, 91, 92). Small numbers are also found throughout southern Cambodia, eastern India, Singapore, the Philippines, and coastal Vietnam (70, 93, 94, 95, 2, 96, 97, 73). Sightings from Assam, India, indicated that some individuals inhabit inshore wetlands (98).

Summer Nonbreeders

Only one individual has been recorded oversummering in a traditional overwintering area; this bird was seen in Sonadia Island, Bangladesh in June 2011 (99).

Extralimital Records

There are single records near Roebuck Bay, Broome and along Eighty Mile Beach in northwestern Australia (100, 101). In late 2020 and early 2021 a single individual was also recorded on the mudflats of the Cairns Esplanade in northeastern Australia (see eBird). There is a record of a single individual in northern Sri Lanka during winter 1991 (102). An unconfirmed vagrant individual was reported in the Mariana Islands (Guam) in 1983 (103, 104), and another possible (but highly unlikely) sighting of an individual in Nepal (105). The species has also been recorded on Bering Island, west of Kamchatka (106). There is an especially questionable breeding record in the 1910s at Lake Rhamtso, Tibet, where 11 eggs, presumed to belong to the species, and a half-decayed adult were found (107), however, it is most likely that the eggs and adult were misidentified (10).

Historical Changes to the Distribution

Unfortunately, due to the rarity of the species, few baseline or accepted historical records exist.

Russia. Due to the remote Russian wilderness, surveys are infrequent and geographically limited, mostly concentrating on accessible areas; thus, changes in distribution are difficult to assess. It is thought the species’ breeding range has contracted within the past century with it possibly no longer breeding in Aniva, Chaivo, or Nabilsky Bays in northeastern Sakhalin Island. This likely extirpation may be due to habitat loss caused by development of fossil-fuel extraction infrastructure and human settlements (108, 70, 109). Chaivo Bay needs to be thoroughly surveyed to clarify the current status of the species in the region. In Nevelskovo Bay, no birds have been recorded in the area since the construction of a Gazprom pipeline in 2008 (VM). The species has not been recorded in Tugur or Ussuri Bays, the Malkachan River Delta, or the Moroshechnaya River Delta since the 1990s, but this is possibly due to a lack of surveys.

South Korea. The species was once abundant on the Korean mudflats; however, since the Saemangeum estuary was reclaimed in 2006 the country no longer supports the species in significant numbers (79, 110). This decline in Saemangeum corresponded with a minor and short-lived increase in abundance increase within the nearby Geum estuary, but not enough to compensate for the losses in Saemangeum (111). Other areas in South Korea, including Asan, Namyang, and Suncheon Bays once supported significant numbers, but none have been observed in recent years.

Southeast Asia. Assessing changes in distribution in southeast Asia is difficult due to many factors including lacking infrastructure and remote areas. Recent surveys in Thailand failed to record the species at four historically active sites (Kalong, Ban Don, Pak Phanang, and Pattani Bay) despite suitable remaining habitat (112). Other countries in the region, such as Bangladesh, have also experienced drastic declines due to natural resource exploitation and development, with extirpation in the near future possible (113, 114).

Distribution of the Nordmann's Greenshank
  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Nordmann's Greenshank

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