Tringa glareola (Linnaeus, 1758)
Family: Charadriiformes > Scolopacidae
Wood Sandpiper is a smart wader with elegant proportions. A strong eye stripe and speckled plumage combine to make this a very attractive bird.
Although Britain hosts a small breeding population, confined to the boggy habitats of the very north of Scotland, most birdwatchers are likely to encounter Wood Sandpiper as a passage migrant, mainly in spring.
Migrating Wood Sandpipers break their journey to refuel, preferring small shallow wetlands with plenty of emergent vegetation. Individuals using such sites can be surprisingly difficult to see as they forage amongst the tall plants. In flight, Wood Sandpipers show off dark upperparts and a square white-rump, and they often call with a quickly repeated reedy whistle as they fly away.
Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the Wood Sandpiper
Wood Sandpiper identification is sometimes difficult. The following article may help when identifying Wood Sandpiper.
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 Wood Sandpiper, provided by xeno-canto contributors.
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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.
The small population of Wood Sandpiper breeding in Scotland has increased strongly since the 1960s (Chisholm 2007), and particularly over the last 25 years, to a five-year mean of 36 breeding pairs over the period 2015–2019 (Eaton et al. 2021). The European population is believed to be stable and has maintained it's range in recent decades (Keller et al. 2020).
Wood Sandpipers are very rare breeding waders of boggy habitats in Scotland. Owing to the sensitivity of some of its breeding haunts, breeding distribution is shown here at 50-km resolution. Most breed in Sutherland and Caithness, but also in Inverness-shire, Wester Ross and the Outer Hebrides.
Occupied 10-km squares in UK
|No. occupied in breeding season||22|
|% occupied in breeding season||0.7|
|No. occupied in winter||2|
|% occupied in winter||0.07|
European Distribution Map
Range size and population size have both increased slightly since the early 1990s.
Change in occupied 10-km squares in the UK
|% change in range in breeding season (1968–72 to 2008–11)||+22.2%|
|% change in range in winter (1981–84 to 2007–11)||--100%|
Wood Sandpiper is a summer visitor and passage migrant in spring and autumn.
Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.
An overview of year-round movements for the whole of Europe can be seen on the EuroBirdPortal viewer.
Lifecycle and body size information about Wood Sandpiper, 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
|Maximum Age from Ringing||7 years 11 months 18 days (set in 1982)|
|Field Codes||2-letter: OD | 5-letter code: WOOSA | Euring: 5540|
For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name
Interpretation and scientific publications about Wood Sandpiper from BTO scientists.
Causes of change
It is not clear why the number of breeding Wood Sandpipers has increased. It has been suggested that the increases in some years could be due to increased numbers of migrants, some of which remain to breed (Chisholm 2007), but this is speculative.
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