An initiative of Earthwatch Institute

  1. Great_knot_flickr_ken_28.08.2008 Great Knot Flickr ken 28.08.2008
  2. Calidris_tenuirostris_flickr_julie_burgher_wa_23.09.2013 Calidris tenuirostris Flickr Julie Burgher WA 23.09.2013

Great Knot

Calidris tenuirostris


Medium sized shorebird with a straight, slender bill and a heavily streaked head and neck. Non breeding plumage in Australia; pale to chestnut head, neck and upper breast. White underparts.

In breeding plumage they have a black band across the chest, and black, white and reddish speckles on the upperparts (Great Knots breed in Siberia).


Great Knots do not breed in Australia, instead nest in Siberia during the northern summer. They are a regular summer migrant to Australia (Sept – March) and can been seen feeding on bivalve molluscs, snails, worms and other crustaceans.

Call ID: usually silent, however said to call in a double whistle

What to Observe

  • Presence

  • Feeding

  • Calling

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

Climate change is expected to significantly impact migratory birds through timing of events like migration or breeding. Responses may include arriving at their breeding grounds earlier as global temperatures rise. They may also start appearing in new areas as climatic events alter preferred habitat, natural resources and migration routes.

Help scientists answer the question: "How are our animals, plants and ecosystems responding to climate change?"

When To Look

Summer migrant. Migration is usually from Sept to March.

Note: ClimateWatch is looking for any changes in the timing of these events so remember to keep a lookout all year!

Where To Look

Tidal mudflats, sandy ocean, estuaries, and shallow wetlands.

Note: ClimateWatch is looking for any changes outside of their known ranges so remember to keep a lookout beyond these regions too!

Great Knot compiled distribution map - BirdLife International


Great Knot compiled distribution map - BirdLife International



  • Pizzey, G, Knight, F 2007, The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Sydney, Australia, Harper Collins Publishers, p 186
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017-3
  • Birdlife Australia
  • Experts Consulted: Science Advisory Panel



  1. Search Species

  1. What Else?

    • Red Knot: shorter bill size, distinct dark eye-line with white eyebrow
    • Asian Dowitcher: much longer bill size
    • Curlew Sandpiper: smaller body size and has a down-curved bill
  1. Did You Know?

    • Great Knots do not breed in Australia. Instead, they nest in Siberia during the northern summer, where they lay up to four eggs.
    • The destruction of the Knots’ most important stop-over site in Korea has not only caused the species’ population to nose-dive by nearly a third, it has deprived 20,000 people of their livelihoods (shellfish).
    • The great knot is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.