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Xenus cinereus (Terek sandpiper) 

Terekruiter [Afrikaans]; Terekruiter [Dutch]; Chevalier bargette [French]; Terekwasserläufer [German]; Maçarico-sovela [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

Xenus cinereus (Terek sandpiper)   

Terek sandpiper, Walvis Bay, Namibia. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ©]


Distribution and habitat

Mainly breeds in the taiga north of 53° North from southern Gulf of Finland to eastern Siberia, heading south to the tropical and subtropical coasts of Australasia, and the eastern coast of Africa, including southern Africa. Here it is locally common along the coast of Mozambique and South Africa up to the Western Cape; it is fairly scarce along Namibia's coastline and has an isolated population in north-central Botswana. It generally prefers mangroves and mud and sand flats in sheltered bays, estuaries or along rivers further inland.

Distribution of Terek 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

Adults mainly leave their breeding grounds in July, while juveniles follow them in August, eventually arriving in southern Africa in the period from September-November. Most of them leave in March and April, rarely April, although juveniles occasionally don't leave and instead stay for winter.


It mainly eats crabs, crustaceans, insects and fish, doing most of its foraging solitarily or in loose groups. It is a highly active forager, plucking prey from the water surface or rapidly moving around with its bill close to the water so that it can quickly grab invertebrates.


Not threatened, although habitat degradation, especially of mangroves, may be causing local population decreases.


  • 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.