Calidris canutus (Linnaeus, 1758) KN KNOT. 4960
Family: Charadriiformes > Scolopacidae

Knot, Liz Cutting

This medium-sized grey wader winters on our larger estuaries before returning to its Arctic breeding grounds.

Although the Knot’s winter plumage is uniformly pale grey, birds start gaining brick-red feathering in the spring as they depart for their breeding grounds. Early in the winter, juvenile birds can be identified by a ‘scalloped’ appearance – each feather has a black line near its edge.

Ringing data show that our wintering Knot come mostly from Iceland, Greenland and the Canadian Arctic. WeBS counts show that The Wash hosts the vast majority of this population, with mid-winter peak counts having increased to in the region of 200,000 birds. Watching their swirling flocks is a true wildlife spectacle.


Knot identification is sometimes difficult. The following article may help when identifying Knot.

related video

Identifying Ruff

Ruff. Photograph by Ed Drewitt

Ruff, with their variable size and plumage, often present identification issues. However, by learning how to recognise Ruff in their various guises through this video, you’ll be able to pick them out with confidence, and have a great reference point for identifying other similar-looking waders.


Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Knot, provided by xeno-canto contributors.

Flight call


Develop your bird ID skills with our training courses

Our interactive online courses are a great way to develop your bird identification skills, whether you're new to the hobby or a competent birder looking to hone your abilities.

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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.




Over 65% of Knots originating from Greenland and Canadian Arctic breeding grounds winter around the coasts of Britain & Ireland, favouring muddy and sandy shores, especially estuaries. They are generally absent from northern and western Scotland and from other stretches of rocky coastline.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2


The number of occupied 10-km squares has increased in Britain by 27% and in Ireland by 58% since the 1981–84 Winter Atlas, matching a population increase detected by the Wetland Bird Survey and Irish Wetland Bird Survey.


Knots are mostly winter visitors, but with a pronounced passage in autumn as birds arrive from tundra breeding habitats.

Weekly occurence of Knot from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

Foreign locations of Knot ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland
Encountered in: Winter (Nov-Feb); Spring (Mar-Apr); Summer (May-Jul); Autumn (Aug-Oct)


Lifecycle and body size information about Knot, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.



View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report


Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Gaelic: Luatharan-gainmhich
Welsh: Pibydd yr Aber
Catalan: territ gros
Czech: jespák rezavý
Danish: Islandsk Ryle
Dutch: Kanoet
Estonian: suurrüdi e. suurrisla
Finnish: isosirri
French: Bécasseau maubèche
German: Knutt
Hungarian: sarki partfutó
Icelandic: Rauðbrystingur
Irish: Cnota
Italian: Piovanello maggiore
Latvian: lielais šnibitis
Lithuanian: islandinis begikas
Norwegian: Polarsnipe
Polish: biegus rdzawy
Portuguese: maçarico-de-papo-vermelho / seixoeira
Slovak: pobrežník hrdzavý
Slovenian: veliki prodnik
Spanish: Correlimos gordo
Swedish: kustsnäppa
Folkname: Silver Plover


Interpretation and scientific publications about Knot from BTO scientists.


Peer-reviewed papers
Avocet - Amy Lewis

Consequences of population change for local abundance and site occupancy of wintering waterbirds

Wavering Waterbirds

2017 | Méndez, V., Gill, J.A., Alves, J.A., Burton, N.H.K. & Davies, R.G.Diversity and Distributions

Protected sites are assigned based on population statistics for vulnerable and endangered species. This new study using WeBS data shows that changes in population size can affect local abundance, and thus influence whether or not key targets are met for site protection.

Peer-reviewed papers

Using stable isotope ratios to unravel shorebird migration and population mixing: a case study with the Red Knot Calidris canutus

2006 | Atkinson, P.W., Baker, A.J., Bennett, K.A., Clark, N.A., Clark, J.A., Cole, K.B., Dey, A., Duiven, A.G., Gillings, S., Gonzalez, P.M., Harrington, B.A., Kalasz, K., Minton, C.D.T., Newton, J., Niles, L.J., Robinson, R.A., de Lima Serrano, I. & Sitters, H.P.

Links to more information from

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