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the web of life in southern Africa

Calidris minuta (Little stint) 

Kleinstrandloper [Afrikaans]; Tsititsiti-nyenyane [South Sotho]; Kleine strandloper [Dutch]; Bécasseau minute [French]; Zwergstrandläufer [German]; Pilrito-pequeno [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Charadriiformes > Family: Scolopacidae

Calidris minuta (Little stint) Calidris minuta (Little stint) 

Little stint adult moulting into summer plumage, Spitskop Dam, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Little stint, West Coast National Park, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Breeds in the Arctic tundra from northern Norway to Siberia, heading south in the non-breeding season to India. Arabia and sub-Saharan Africa. Within southern Africa it is common in patches across the region, occurring in both coastal and inland wetlands, such as intertidal mud and sand flats, and temporary pans.

Distribution of Little stint in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Predators and parasites

Movements and migrations

Long distance migrant, arriving in southern Africa mainly in August, with numbers peaking from October-December. Returns to the breeding grounds from mid-February to late March (birds in the northern parts leave later). While in in southern Africa it is highly nomadic, moving in search of recently flooded and overgrown habitats.


It eats mainly small invertebrates such as midges, crustaceans and gastropods, doing most of its foraging in very shallow water or mud. It searches for animals with its sharp eyesight before rapidly plucking them up with its bill. It is the only wader light enough to forage on the algal mats of commercial salt pans, usually concentrating on the downwind margin of the pan.


Not threatened, as it has adapted well to the introduction of man-made habitats, such as salt works, dams and sewage works.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.