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Marsh Sandpiper
Tringa stagnatilis

Kedidi Paya (Malay)

walking on sandMarsh Sandpipers are medium-sized waders with long needle-like bills and very long greenish legs. They are often mistaken for Greenshanks.

Marsh Sandpipers eat mainly worms, insect larvae and bivalve.

wading in water foragingTo find their prey, Marsh Sandpipers may wade up to their bellies in shallow water, walking briskly and steadily, pecking off titbits on the water surface, or sweeping around on the bottoms with their bills. They appear to prefer soft mud.

Wary birds, Marsh Sandpipers usually hunt alone, but on rich feeding sites may gather in co-ordinated groups, or join other waders.

However, they roost in large groups, often with other waders such as Greenshanks. Marsh Sandpipers do not regularly roost in mangroves but are attracted to open clearings in mangroves.
Mangrove and wetland wildlife at
Sungei Buloh Nature Park
Main features: Medium (22-25cm), slender; head small; bill long (3-4cm) straight, needle-like; legs very long greenish-dull yellow.

Summer/breeding-Head and neck heavily spotted black becoming chevrons on flanks.

Winter/non-breeding-Back uniformly grey; darker on shoulders; underparts white.

Juvenile: Back feathers notched and edged with buff.

Call: Short, high-pitched metallic tyeuk or yip when in flight.

In flight: Legs protrude well beyond tail-tip; prominent white rump and lower back; no wing bars.

Similar birds:
Greenshank (Tringa nebularia): similar in flight. Greenshank is larger; legs shorter; head and neck heavier; bill thicker more uptilted.

Status in Singapore: Very common winter visitor and passage migrant to coasts on the island and North and South offshore islands.




In flight

Photos from
Rosair and Cottridge
World distribution: Worldwide including Australia and New Zealand.

Classification: Family Scolopiacidae. World 88 species, Singapore 34 species. From the Order Charadiiformes.
Breeding (April-August): Marsh Sandpipers breed in temperate zones from Southeastern Europe through Russia to Western Siberia and Ussuriland. The courtship song is a repeated tu-ee-u. On breeding grounds, the alarm call is a sharp chip.

Marsh Sandpipers nest around grassy and muddy shores of freshwater pools in steppes and boreal wetlands with lush grassy vegetation. But they may also tolerate brackish water. Nests may be solitary or in loose colonies with the nests about 10m apart. Both parents incubate and raise the young.

Migration: Most Marsh Sandpipers winter in sub-Saharan Africa and in India; others in Europe. Fewer winter in Southeast Asia and Australia. Marsh Sandpipers tend to fly long distances and don't stop often at passage sites. They usually arrive late and leave early. Non-breeders may stay at the wintering grounds all year, or summer at intermediate sites. They prefer to winter on inland wetlands, both fresh and brackish, sometimes in large numbers of several hundred. In Singapore, they are found on mudflats, sandy shores, ponds, reservoirs and canals.

Status and threats: Marsh Sandpipers are particularly threatened by the overuse of insecticides and herbicides because they tend to forage in cultivated wetlands such as ricefields.

  To buy these references & others, visit
Nature's Niche
  • Morten Strange, "A Photographic Guide to Birds of Malaysia and Singapore: including Southeast Asia, the Philippines and Borneo", Periplus, 2000 (p. 112: description, voice, habits, distribution, status, photo).
  • David R Wells, "The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Vol. 1 (Non-Passarines)", Academic Press, 1999 (p. 229-230: identification, distribution map, habits, habitat, migration, conservation).
  • Lim Kim Seng and Dana Gardner, "Birds: An Illustrated Field Guide to the Birds of Singapore", Sun Tree Publishing Ltd., 1997 (p. 55: identification, status in Singapore, distribution, diagram, number of species).
  • Christopher Hails, "Birds of Singapore" illustrated by Frank Jarvis, Times Editions, 1987 reprinted 1995 (p. 74: habits, description, status in Singapore, and lovely drawings of the birds).
  • Lim Kim Seng, "Pocket Checklist of the Birds of the Republic of Singapore", Nature Society (Singapore), 1999 (Abundance, status, Chinese and Malay names).
  • Morten Strange and Allen Jeyarajasingam, "Birds: A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore", Sun Tree Publishing, 1993 (p. 121: description, distribution, habits, habitat, photo).
  • David Rosair and David Cottridge, "Photographic Guide to the Shorebirds of the World", Facts on File, 1995 (p. 112: photos of flight, adults-breeding and non-breeding, and juvenile).
  • Peter Hayman (et. al), "Shorebirds: An Identification Guide to the Waders of the World", Christopher Helm, 1986 (p. 324-25: identification, distribution, habits, movements, diagrams).
By Ria Tan, 2001