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Tringa glareola (Wood sandpiper) 

Bosruiter [Afrikaans]; Uthuthula (also applied to Common sandpiper) [Xhosa]; Koe-koe-lemao (generic term for sandpiper), Seealemabopo-khoali [South Sotho]; N'wantshekutsheku, Xitsatsana, Xitshekutsheku (generic terms for sandpiper or plover) [Tsonga]; Bosruiter [Dutch]; Chevalier sylvain [French]; Bruchwasserläufer [German]; Maçarico-bastardo [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

Tringa glareola (Wood sandpiper)  Tringa glareola (Wood sandpiper) 

Wood sandpiper, Pretoria, South Africa. [photo Philip Fourie ©]

Wood sandpiper, Uganda. [photo Kristian Svensson ©]

Distribution and habitat

Breeds in a broad band of forest tundra from Iceland and Scotland across Eurasia to the Kamchatka, Siberia, heading south in the non-breeding season to Australia, South-East Asia, India and sub-Saharan Africa, including southern Africa. Here it is common in Zimbabwe, northern and eastern Botswana and north-eastern South Africa, while more scarce elsewhere in the region. It occurs in a wide range of open freshwater habitats, such as shallow sewage ponds, dams, pans, flood plains, marshes and muddy edges of water courses, while largely absent from tidal coastal habitats.

Distribution of Wood sandpiper 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.  

Movements and migrations

Non-breeding migrant, with southern African birds originating from Finland east to the Ural Mountains, departing the breeding grounds in June and eventually arriving in southern Africa in July. It is widespread in the region by August, with adults leaving in late February and March, while immature birds leave in the period from late March to early May.


It eats a variety of insects, other invertebrates and small fish and frogs, doing most of its foraging by slowly walking on the ground or in shallow water, probing, pecking and sweeping its bill from side to side in search of prey. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • invertebrates
    • aquatic and terrestrial insects
    • molluscs
    • worms
    • crustaceans
    • spiders
  • vertebrates
    • frogs
    • fish
  • other
    • seeds
    • algae


Not threatened, in fact it has an estimated 1.2 million breeding pairs in Russia alone.


  • 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.