Red Knot

Did you know?

Little is known about their migration flights, but evidence suggests that some Red Knots fly non-stop across the West Pacific Ocean from north-eastern Asia.

Single birds are usually silent, but flocks may give a low 'knutt' call.
Facts and Figures
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Breeding season: 
June to August
Clutch Size: 
22 days
Nestling Period: 
20 days
Conservation Status
Basic Information
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What does it look like?

The Red Knot is a medium-sized, dumpy grey wader with a short neck and long body. The bill is short and straight and there is a faint pale brow line. The green-grey legs are short. The upper body is brownish grey with fine dark streaks on the head and neck. The underbody is white with some light streaking. In breeding plumage, the upper body is boldly marked, contrasting with the chestnut-red body.

Similar species: 

The Red Knot is slightly smaller and less bulky than the Great Knot, C. tenuirostris, and appears more rounded. The bill is shorter than the bill of the Great Knot, which is longer than the head and slightly down-curved.

Where does it live?

Red Knots are widespread around the Australian coast, less in the south and with few inland records. Small numbers visit Tasmania and off-shore islands. It is widespread but scattered in New Zealand. They breed in North America, Russia, Greenland and Spitsbergen. Red Knots are a non-breeding visitor to most continents.


Red Knots gather in large flocks on the coast in sandy estuaries with tidal mudflats.

Seasonal movements: 

This is a migratory species, breeding in the high Arctic, then migrating south. The subspecies rogersi breeds in north-eastern Siberia and migrates mainly to New Zealand and Australia. The nominate subspecies also flies to Australia. They fly long non-stop flights and the route to Australia is not well known. Most arrive in north west Australia at the end of August to September and leave south east Australia from March to early April. Some young non-breeders may remain here.

What does it do?

Red Knots gather in large flocks with other waders. They walk fast, probing rapidly in soft sand and mud for worms, bivalves and crustaceans and also eat spiders, insects, seeds and shoots. They feed by day and night, regulated by the tide.


Red Knots breed in the far northern hemisphere, in scattered single pairs. The nest is a shallow depression on open ground, lined with grass and lichen. The eggs are blotched and speckled for camouflage.

Living with us

Threats on the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (the migration route to Australia) include economic and social pressures such as wetland destruction and change, pollution and hunting.

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