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Tringa stagnatilis (Marsh sandpiper) 

Moerasruiter [Afrikaans]; Poelruiter [Dutch]; Chevalier stagnatile [French]; Teichwasserläufer [German]; Perna-verde-fino [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 stagnatilis (Marsh sandpiper)   

Marsh sandpiper. [photo Callie de Wet ©]


Distribution and habitat

Breeds in Europe from roughly 50-120° East and Siberia, heading south in the non-breeding season to the area from Australia through India to sub-Saharan Africa from Mauritania to Eritrea south to southern Africa. Here it is fairly common in large patches of the region, largely absent from Mozambique and the arid Kalahari. It generally prefers coastal lagoons, saline wetlands, temporary pools in river flood plains or salt-marshes and muddy fringes of open water bodies.

Distribution of Marsh 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

It mainly arrives in southern Africa in the period from September-November, departing between January and March, earlier than most other waders.


It mainly eats insects and their larvae, especially chironomids and coleopterans, supplemented with molluscs, crustaceans and polychaetes. It does most of its foraging in shallow water, plucking prey from the surface or sweepings its bill from its bill from side to side before snapping it shut.


Not threatened, although it may be particularly vulnerable to botulism.


  • 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.