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the web of life in southern Africa

Tringa totanus (Common redshank) 

Rooipootruiter [Afrikaans]; IJslandse tureluur [Dutch]; Chevalier gambette [French]; Rotschenkel [German]; Perna-vermelha-comum [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 totanus (Common redshank)  Tringa totanus (Common redshank) 

Common redshank, El Fayoum, Egypt. [photo Lip Kee ]

Common redshank. [photo Trevor Hardaker ]

Distribution and habitat

Breeds from western Europe to China, heading south in the non-breeding season to the Mediterranean, Australia, southern Asia to patches of West and East Africa. It is an uncommon visitor to southern Africa, mainly occurring in northern Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe as well as along the southern coast and the central region of South Africa. It generally prefers muddy estuaries, sheltered bays, marine inlets, salt works and the muddy, sloping margins of large freshwater bodies.

Distribution of Common redshank 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 Ergni 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 has been recorded year-round in southern Africa, however it is though its numbers peaking from August-January.


It mainly eats crustaceans, mollusc and polychaete worms, doing most of its foraging by pecking or probing in shallow water.


Not threatened.


  • 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.