Common Greenshank

© Nigel Dennis


Common Greenshank - Tringa nebularia

Common Greenshank Appearance

The common greenshank can appear very like a marsh sandpiper when wading, but the bill on the greenshank has an upturned appearance and the body is heavier and less slender in appearance. Greenshanks have long green legs and a long bill with a grey base.

When not breeding, the plumage is grey to brown above and a pale white below. During breeding season, the upper body becomes heavily streaked and marked, a bold black chevron type marking becomes visible on the chest.


The common greenshank feeds on insects, molluscs, crustaceans and small fish. They are surface feeders and feed along the shoreline. They will feed both nocturnally and diurnally.

Common Greenshank Breeding

The common greenshank breeds in the northern hemisphere. (Palaeartic)

Common Greenshank Behaviour

The common greenshank is found alone or in pairs, but very rarely will they be found in groups. To make life difficult in identification, they often feed in the vicinity of marsh sandpipers. The common greenshank feeds along the shoreline in shallow water and can be seen chasing fish into shallow water.



Common Greenshank Distribution and Habitat

The common greenshank is found in fresh and saltwater areas, in marshes, mudflats, lakeshores and lagoons. The common greenshank is found throughout South Africa, except in the very arid areas. They are a summer visitor to South Africa.