Redshank - Little Ringed Plover

The subsequent images were taken at the National Park Neusiedlersee Seewinkel which is located in the south eastern corner of Austria.

The page deals with Redshanks (Tringa totanus), and Little Ringed Plovers (Charadrius dubius). Every year both species appear here for breeding purpose. Most photos of this page were taken in April and May 2003.

Redshanks are birds of similar size like blackbirds. The European breeding territories are occupied about end of March. The name Redshank stems from the bright red leg color, which is presented in summer. Scroll down!

Bills are straight and pointed. At the head side it starts red and continuous getting darkish. Redshanks are noisy birds, they have a typical flight voice and penetrating alarm calls.

Nests are well hided between the growing vegetation and typically populated by four eggs. Both birds alternate in breeding and both take care for the cubs.


Little ringed Plovers are small birds of about 15 cm length. A significant difference to other Plovers is the yellow eye ring. Little ringed Plover's activity continues to gloaming and nocturnal hours.

They are running with very fast small steps, appearing like a rolling ball. In between they often stop and move the bodies. For resting they stand on one leg.

When the weather is cold, they need up to one week longer for brooding, because they cannot produce enough warmth then. Both parents often change in brooding.

In case of danger for the nest, Plovers first run away and then start contortions and jerking in order to deflect the attacker. Banks of wild rivers are the natural habitat of these Plovers.


Like this Redshanks look at breeding season. The plumage coloring of both genders is similar. The body length is about 28 cm.

Click on preview thumbnails for enlarged presentation!

  Marriage mainly happens at the breeding territory. On the ground, male Redshanks try to copulate with many present female birds. Mostly without success. Better in success is the character flight, which comprises several phases. In case of success, a female Redshank joins the male. They together then select the location for their nest.  
  Breeding period is the second half of May. The nest is built well hided between growing plants. Sometimes the grass is weaved above the nest. Nest access often via a side entrance. Both genders alternate in breeding. (top of page)  
  Breeding duration is between 22 and 25 days. At the beginning both genders take care about the cubs. Out of the breeding period, the birds either build small groups or they are single.  
  Prey is detected mainly optically but sometimes muddy grounds are sweeped too. When sweeping the bill is hold nearly vertically. When sweeping the birds may dive the head into the water.  
  When searching optically, Redshanks run a distance with out-striking steps interrupted by short sprints. They pick and poke for prey like small snails, insects and worms.
(top of page)
  Little ringed Plovers are the only Plovers breeding at European rivers. At the Seewinkel the Little ringed Plover is the most common Plover. The birds spend a lot of time at the ground. When taking off, a melodic call is repeated several times.  
  The yellow eye ring and a narrow white line above the black head band are the differences to other Plovers. For the purpose of prey search the birds prefer muddy shallow pools at fresh water locations. Nutrition are insects and larvae.  
  Male birds are 1 - 3 weeks earlier at the breeding territory than female ones. At the beginning they perform noisy and significant behaviour. Rituals are virtual breeding and character sing flights. If successful, the female bird enters the nest hollow passing the spread tail of the male.
(top of page)
  The copulation is executed close to the nest hollow. The male starts slowly and increases speed, when coming closer to the female. Then the male locally steps besides the female. When the female signalize readiness by bending down, the male jumps on her back for copulation.  
  Nests are usually located close to the water and on the open ground. Sometimes also on a small island. Both genders are breeding and take care for the eyas. They achieve their autonomy after 8 - 25 days.  
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Lapwing - Spotted Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Stork - Seagull, Coastal Birds
Last Update: August 2005 - send me an email
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