The common greenshank

Writer: Isaac Cohen  |  Editor: Liu Minxia  |  From: Shenzhen Daily

A common greenshank is seen perching on a rock in Shenzhen Bay Park. Photos by Isaac Cohen

The common greenshank

Of all the bird species that visit Shenzhen every year, the one probably first to arrive and last to leave, and therefore easily spotted in different areas of the city, is the fantastic common greenshank (Tringa nebularia). This medium-sized bird, 35 cm from head to tail and with an average wingspan of 70cm, is the largest member of the Tringa family.


It has a white face, a streaked black-brown upper body that becomes darker over the wings, a white underbelly and long yellowish legs. A long, solid beak tilts slightly upward.


A common greenshank is seen foraging in Shenzhen Bay Park.

This bird species resides in the northernmost areas of Europe and Asia, such as Scotland, Sweden and Russia. During the cold winter, it travels south into warmer places such as northern Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. That’s why we can meet them here in Shenzhen.


The bird prefers walking on the ocean’s shores and into mudflats, sandbars, marshes, or dried-up lakes, where they forage for insects, crustaceans, mollusks, amphibians or small fish.


A common greenshank is seen foraging in Shenzhen Bay Park.

Their breeding season usually runs between April and June, and they are mostly monogamous during their entire life. Females can lay up to five eggs per clutch in a nest built by the male. The eggs are incubated by both parents for about four weeks. Another four more weeks under the care of their parents, and the chicks are ready to explore the world on their own.


Not a threatened species, this bird is plentiful in their numbers. Let’s keep working together to preserve their habitats so that they come to visit us for many more seasons.