Meadow birds

Common Redshank

Ubiquitous at the coast

The Redshank owes its name to its striking legs. Apart from that, the red and black beak and the white trailing edge of the wings are also distinctive features. These slender and diurnal meadow birds move swiftly on their red shanks. 

Redshanks forage by probing the soil or by picking up food from the ground. During the breeding season, they have small territories which they defend against intruders, but outside of the breeding season they live socially.


Scientific nameTringa totanus
CallTew … hee … hee
FoodMostly insects, worms and molluscs
In breeding groundsMarch to July
Clutch size3–5, usually 4
Broods per year1
Population trend in EuropeDeclining


More information

Find out more about the Common Redshank.


Redshanks are mainly found in coastal areas. Important for them are moist to wet areas with sparse, low vegetation. They typically find such conditions in salt marshes and wet meadows. At the nest site, however, Redshanks prefer higher vegetation in which they can hide their clutch. 

For foraging, they use areas on the mudflats, in shallow waters and on wet meadows. When they are not foraging, the families prefer to stay in unmown areas on inland meadows, preferably on the edges of ditches.


Redshanks are migratory birds. From March to July they are in their breeding grounds, which include the German state of Lower Saxony and the Dutch province of Fryslân. 

When their chicks have fledged, both adult and young birds usually migrate to the Atlantic coast, sometimes also to the Mediterranean, to spend the winter there. Depending on the weather, some Redshanks also spend the winter in the Wadden Sea.


For the protection of the Redshank, it is essential to conserve and restore suitable habitats. This includes, in particular, wet grasslands that are managed extensively, i.e. without fertilisers and pesticides, among other things. On the coasts, the preservation and calming of salt marshes is an important conservation measure for the Redshank.